Small and medium-size businesses plan to ratchet up their overall IT spending by 6.6 percent in 2004, with business intelligence software factoring prominently in the mix, according to research released Tuesday.
A survey of 1,000 IT decision-makers from North American SMBs found that 33 percent plan to buy BI software this year, and another 30 percent plan to purchase content management software. Challenges with structured and unstructured data are the driving force behind the planned spending, said Forrester Research, which carried out the survey. Forrester defines SMBs as firms with fewer than 1,000 employees.
The research firm found greater overall optimism in the SMB market than among larger companies, which are expected to increase their IT spending by only 1.7 percent. Eighty-one percent of SMBs described their current business climate as at least moderately strong, and 78 percent expect further improvement before the year's end.
Microsoft dominates mindshare among SMBs for business intelligence software, systems management and content management applications, Forrester found. Among non-BI application vendors, those viewed favorably by SMBs include Dell, Cisco and Symantec.
Though BI factors prominently in small companies' plans, it wasn’t the technology area of greatest interest, Forrester found. Seventy-five percent of SMBs plan new investments in security applications, 74 percent expect to spend on new servers, 65 percent foresee spending on storage hardware, and 70 percent plan to buy added Internet connectivity.
Small businesses' other areas of interest include systems management software, new PCs and wireless networking, Forrester said.