Security tops cost cutting as business issue

Even when we’re in the midst of an economic slowdown, companies are always looking for ways to use technology as a means of saving money and creating efficiencies. The trick for VARs is to find out where the greatest pain points are.

So, the Midmarket Group of distie Arrow ECS surveyed mid-size companies to find out. And it discovered that, perhaps surprisingly, information security outranks reducing costs as a business issue (of course, reducing costs is still a priority, but not the top one). And, it seems that despite the state of the economy, there’s still big business opportunities to be had in the mid-market.

The survey, conducted by Echo Research on behalf of Arrow ECS, found that 61 per cent of respondents plan to increase spending on information technology in the coming year, with only 10 per cent expecting budget cuts. Only 19 per cent, however, expressed a high level of satisfaction with how their companies use IT to address business priorities – the rest are only somewhat or not satisfied. And while 78 per cent rate security as an important business issue, only 32 per cent are satisfied with how their company is addressing it.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Arrow’s Midmarket Group is helping partners build up their mid-market business, and that the distie is putting more focus on security solutions and training for VARs.

While many disties offer security solutions – and offer training around those solutions – it looks like there’s some work that still needs to be done. Survey respondents felt that their consultants or partners could improve in the areas of technical knowledge and understanding of their business needs (they also cited costs as an area for improvement, but that really isn’t much of a surprise).

In fact, only 29 per cent of mid-market companies surveyed turn to a local IT consultant for strategic advice, while 59 per cent look internally and 40 per cent do their research on the Internet. If more companies are surfing the Net for business advice than turning to a trusted advisor, there’s clearly an issue that needs to be addressed.

No doubt, security is a complex area, and disties can help VARs navigate their way through the maze of products and services on the market. But this must be done in the context of a customer’s business requirements. And VARs must be able to convince customers that they can bring more value to the table than some white papers on the Internet.

How can they do this? The survey found that 58 per cent of mid-market companies feel at a competitive disadvantage to their Fortune 500 counterparts in using technology for growth. But 54 per cent felt they could level the playing field if they had the same access to technology.

The channel has to get across the message that they can indeed level that playing field.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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