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Mobility and the cloud in the mid-market

In new and exciting ways, midsized companies are turning to technology to help improve their business. While these companies have always had a basic need to manage their resources carefully by focusing on areas that provide the best return on their investment, increasingly, emerging technologies are providing just that. New solutions tied to the cloud and mobile are allowing middle market businesses to boost back-office productivity, reach new customers, and reinforce their culture.

Mobility and the cloud in the mid-market
These are among the findings of a recent Deloitte-sponsored survey of mid-market IT executives, who indicate they either are already tapping the potential of emerging technologies, or are laying the groundwork for their adoption. Our respondents make it clear that they are approaching new technologies such as cloud and mobile as they would any new product or service rollout: through careful assessment, pilot testing, evaluation, revision and development.

While today’s pace of business creates a sense of urgency for companies big and small, mid-market competitors are finding this deliberate approach especially useful for generating early successes with limited resources. It is also allowing them to evaluate the various security and privacy considerations in employing new technologies as they continue down the road toward their further adoption.

Our report identifies three overarching themes as mid-market companies work to address these and other considerations.

1. Technology is seen as a catalyst for growth

Echoing the findings of Deloitte’s report, Mid-market perspectives: 2013 report on America’s economic engine, respondents to our technology survey indicate that mid-market executives are optimistic about their businesses, and that growth initiatives take precedence over cost-cutting as a priority. What’s more, they see technology as a key driver of that growth in the year ahead. Once predominantly seen as an expense, technology is now viewed by more business leaders as a worthwhile investment and a source of strategic advantage. Additionally, the advent of cloud-based technology offers more affordable alternatives for mid-market companies as they work to drive growth in their organizations.
The linkage between technology investment and focus on growth helps explain why nearly half of those surveyed report their companies are spending more on technology this year than they did in 2012. A large number of those surveyed also say their organization sees technology playing an important role in accelerating growth and effectiveness, as well as a means to both compete on a differentiated basis and support efforts to globalize. Media, technology and telecommunications companies lead the way in this respect, but other sectors are not far behind.
Recognizing technology’s increasing value, the vast majority of the mid-market companies surveyed now have a dedicated executive to identify, set and oversee the technology agenda.

2. New technology forays are focused on the customer

Mid-market companies are moving deliberately toward greater technology adoption, in many instances focusing on functions such as customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA).

Even those businesses that are just investigating cloud services say they will begin their journey with sales and customer management business activities, rather than targeting more operationally critical functions such as manufacturing and finance. Many of these initial technology successes have helped them make internal work streams more efficient, though our respondents say they have started to look into deploying new technologies “outside the walls” through platforms such as consumer-facing mobile applications.

3. Security concerns are hampering IT adoption

Security of information is a concern for many mid-market CIOs, and it helps explain why their early deployment of new technologies has been limited to peripheral sales support functions. Nearly four in every 10 executives we 3surveyed say issues concerning data privacy and security risks are giving them pause, and the issue is cited as the prevailing challenge in using cloud-based services.

At the same time, change from within — specifically, employees’ use of mobile devices — is increasing the urgency for IT leaders to understand the security and privacy ramifications. Many of the companies we surveyed have yet to establish policies and procedures for remote access to data and smart phone use. As many larger companies have done, their mid-market counterparts will likely have to proactively work to mitigate such risks through organized assessments, development of plans and policies, and rigorous monitoring.

Overall, our survey suggests that change is not only coming to the middle market, but that it has already arrived for many companies. Leading mid-market CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs appear to be embracing technology’s promise as a competitive differentiator for supporting growth, maintaining an entrepreneurial culture, and increasing competitiveness — albeit with a healthy dose of caution.

Two decades ago, if you asked mid-market executives how they planned to compete and win against larger competitors, they would most likely have cited a combination of superior strategy, adaptability, nimbleness, execution, and talent. Perhaps the last thing you would have expected them to prioritize was technology. With many best-in-class technology solutions plagued by high price tags, IT leaders at smaller companies faced an uphill climb — hindered by lack of resources, the inability to focus on large implementations, and lack of access to capital — in trying to make the case for technology investments over other pressing business needs.

But today, advances in cloud computing, data analytics and mobile platforms are lowering the barriers to IT entry and promising new insights and capabilities at a fraction of the cost of the more traditional systems that were predominant in the past. Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2013 report points to the power of the Postdigital Enterprise™ — an organization that is able to harness the disruptive forces of analytics, mobile, social, cloud and cyber to more quickly understand their customers, help improve operations, and elevate their performance. In this emerging postdigital era, mid-market CIOs are combining such advances with breakthrough thinking in strategy, operations and human capital to gain more clout in the organizational hierarchy.

Our survey results suggest that such companies’ growth aspirations are connected in some ways to the importance they place on technology and the internal champions who are setting the technology agenda. The findings paint a picture of an increasingly engaged market segment that perceives technology as a strategic asset, capable of supporting organizations’ growth objectives in new and exciting ways.


To learn more, download the full report:

About the survey
A total of 466 respondents from businesses with annual revenues from $100 million to more than $1 billion provided their insights for this survey; 65 percent of the respondents were senior executives, and 79 percent were from private companies.

Lundi 16 Septembre 2013