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    SMBs Expected to Continue Investing in Technology

    Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have arguably been the top beneficiaries of recent innovations like cloud computing. As a result, SMB investment in these technologies is expected to continue during 2013.

    In a recent blog post, Laurie McCabe, co-founder and partner of the SMB Group, highlighted what she believes will be the top priorities for small and medium-sized firms over the next 12 months, including:

    - Big data adoption rates will grow, but some companies may miss out on its importance. Nearly 60 percent of mid-sized companies have already implemented business intelligence/analytics software, and 49 percent plan to adopt big data solutions in the next year. Small businesses, on the other hand, have been slower to deploy the software – less than 20 percent have done so, according to an SMB Group study – and McCabe suggested that these companies are in danger of falling behind.

    A separate study by Microsoft revealed that three-quarters of medium or large organizations have big data plans for 2013, which they hope will enable them to manage growing data volumes and gaining important insight into unprecedented areas.

    “Big data can be large tables of structured data, huge files of complex unstructured data, or small amounts of machine-generated data that pile up faster than you can make sense of it,” said Eron Kelly, general manager of SQL Server at Microsoft, adding that the technology can “help everyone make better, faster decisions by providing tools that make it easy to find insights in big data, small data … any data.”

    While IT professionals are still the leaders with regard to big data adoption, the survey revealed that customer service, sales, finance and marketing departments are all gaining interest in the technology as well.

    - As the “third platform” continues gaining steam, cloud computing, social media and mobile solutions will increasingly intersect. More than half of SMBs have already adopted cloud-based programs, and that number is expected to grow over the next few years. A similar trend is expected to unfold with regard to mobile and social media strategies.

    McCabe also suggested that integration among these different channels could lead to top-notch unified communications, which in turn would allow for “round-the-cloud service.”

    - Data security will become a point of emphasis. While the benefits of these new platforms are overwhelmingly positive, they are not without a unique set of security concerns. According to the SMB Group study, small and medium-sized business investment in virtualization and data backup are expected to grow substantially in 2013.