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The Importance of IT

Study shows small businesses plan to keep spending on hardware and software.

Smart business owners know it's always critical to be technologically prepared, despite tough economic times. That's the lesson from the results of a recent survey conducted by IT management solutions provider Spiceworks, which show that most small businesses are still planning to make significant investments in new hardware and software over the next six months.

Even as small businesses are squeezing more mileage out of their existing hardware--the average planned lifespan of desktops, laptops and servers increased 26 percent in 2009 from 40 months to 50 months--68 percent of businesses queried by Spiceworks said they are looking to add new hardware by year's end, and 51 percent said they are budgeting for new software.

"Companies see that IT is critical to their future," says Spiceworks co-founder and VP of marketing Jay Hallberg. "They're still looking to stretch out the life of their existing equipment and looking at what they can easily upgrade, like storage and RAM. But once a machine becomes 4 or 5 years old, it makes sense to junk it and get a new one."

Fifty-six percent of businesses polled by Spiceworks are targeting new desktops, and 55 percent plan to purchase laptops. Forty-five percent are mulling new server purchases, 31 percent are looking to add printers and 27 percent are shopping for new network devices.

As for software spending, 32 percent of respondents plan to invest in security and anti-spam solution purchases by the end of 2009. Within this segment, 35 percent are targeting cloud-based security and anti-spam services. Forty-four percent are employing virtualization solutions. Spiceworks notes that within small and medium business networks, 21 percent of total server computing capacity is now virtualized, and 30 percent of businesses plan to deploy or expand virtualization in their networks. In addition, 22 percent are looking to hire additional full-time or part-time IT workers--only 3 percent plan to further cut staff.

Not all small businesses are expanding their IT horizons, of course. "We see some who are incredibly progressive and doing everything cutting edge, but others adopt an 'If it isn't broke, don't fix it' perspective," Hallberg says.

Chicago-based writer Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of Fiercemobile content, a daily electronic newsletter dedicated to mobile media, applications and marketing.

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This article was originally published in the December 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Importance of IT.

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