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5/4/2011
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SMB IT Roles Changing

Support and maintenance were once the only roles for SMB IT staff, but now they are active participants in revenue generation, according to a Zoomerang survey.

According to a recent Zoomerang survey, the role of IT staff at SMBs is changing. The first key finding is that IT staffs are becoming more involved in daily company business. Once sought after to provide support and maintenance only, today IT staff are active participants in revenue generation.

Among the SMB respondents, 78% said they have in-house IT support for their organizations; of those, 79% indicated that IT staff members are involved in the company's day-to-day operations. Apparently, this is a growing trend: When asked how the role of IT has changed in the past year, 30% of survey respondents said that these team members are less often sideline players now and have, in fact, become key participants in daily business activities. At the same time, 15% of decision-makers said that in-house IT personnel have become more involved in sales and business development.

Another area explored by the Zoomerang survey was the adoption of cloud technology. Despite the sizable sums of cash that cloud vendors are dropping on efforts to attract small and midsize businesses, only 10% of respondents reported that they have deployed cloud-based technologies. What's more, 47% said they're not familiar with cloud technology at all, and 25% said they've heard of it but aren't sure what it is.

"These numbers are staggering given that cloud vendors are investing huge amounts of money in marketing to showcase the benefits of cloud computing," said Alex Terry, general manager of Zoomerang, in a press release. "This research points to the need for cloud vendors to educate business owners on what cloud computing is and how it's relevant to SMBs."

Here's more: Only 2% of respondents plan to deploy cloud technology at some point this year, and 20% said they're still engaged in a cost-benefit analysis of cloud computing. Among those that do plan to ascend to the cloud, 61% said they'll be taking on a cloud solution for data storage; 53% are doing so for email and 38% for customer service.

With IT figuring so prominently in today's corporate landscape, it's pivotal that SMBs look for ways to maximize existing and new technology to improve operations and optimize efficiencies. It looks as if these companies are on their way to doing just that, but the journey is far from over: Only 7% of respondents assess the current state of their business technology as Advanced (ahead of the curve; streamlined and efficient). But 58% do rate their IT as Good (not the latest, but everything runs smoothly and with minimal maintenance).

For the survey, which was conducted by Zoomerang Online Surveys and Polls, 525 decision-makers at companies with 1,000 or fewer employees were interviewed.

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