by Marc Winter | 1/6/16

As we kick off 2016, IT providers are set to implement their best-laid plans to drive growth over 2015. Many have done some research into trends, aligned their businesses to mimic the competitors that they believe are successful or will just push forward with 2015 initiatives. Do you believe turning the calendar to a new year provides the opportunity to “reset” or that fulfilling the trending needs of clients is an ongoing part of your business?

As a marketer, I consult the annual Spiceworks State of IT report to see if our ongoing growth initiatives are aligned with broader trends or challenges (all data in this blog are from the 2016 State of IT Report). The report polls hundreds of IT decision makers, mostly from companies with less than 250 employees (82 percent of companies polled). Fortunately, we’re actually ahead of the 2016 trends for the typical office imaging dealer customers. Is your business prepared? Here are a few observations for 2016.

Managed IT Services as Part of the Budget

Companies plan on spending on average about $328k in 2016 on IT, a 7.4 percent increase over 2015. However,just 2 percent of the budget is allocated for “Managed IT Services,” a number that is down incrementally from last year. “Managed IT Services” generally covers end points, servers and networks. What this information indicates is that basic managed IT is becoming more of a commodity, or that more providers in the basic managed IT space are cutting prices to adapt in a saturated market. Either way, client acquisition costs are rising while providers shrink margins rather than innovate to win business.

The Big Challenge: Security

The understanding of cyber security today is similar to the understanding of “cloud” a few years ago. Everyone is talking about it, but few know what it is or how to implement it. According to the survey, 75 percent of IT respondents believe implementing a cyber security solution now is important and 71 percent believe security is a big risk. But the actual implementation numbers are alarming. 50 percent of the respondents believe their company is not adequately protected, and 62 percent are not adequately invested. Additionally, 60 percent do not perform regular security audits, and another 50 percent do not consider security a top priority for 2016. These results indicate that you need to have more than a product to sell and fear tactics to get in the door. IT pros are aware of the need for security solutions, but they are looking for a Sherpa – not a sales rep. There are few, if any, other areas of IT where being a trusted solutions advisor is more important.

These are just a couple of key takeaways for the 2016 forecast. Budgets are up, basic managed IT services spending is falling and cyber security is ready to step to the forefront. Where is the rest of the budget going? Mostly to hardware (desktops/pcs, servers, network appliances, storage), software and cloud services like email and backup solutions.

In 2016, as with any other year, the more value and innovation you can deliver your clients to save them overall IT cost, maximize budgets and let them sleep at night, the bigger slice of the budget you’ll earn.

 Marc Winter is partner and chief marketing officer of the IT Solution Alliance, an innovative technology company built to transform imaging dealers into successful, next-level IT providers. Winter brings more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience working with clients in the office imaging dealer and OEM space as well as next-generation technology companies. Contact him at marc@itsolutionalliance.com