Throughout the past year, we’ve heard a lot about recovery and support for small businesses. Large enterprises are shifting their priorities to longer-term business resiliency. But for the organizations in between – not quite large and not quite small – the past year has also had a significant and unique impact on business goals and IT investments.
How are midsize companies different?
The emphasis on midsize businesses is an important one, as business goals and operational structures differ from those at small businesses and enterprises. Though there are several ways to classify this segment, we define it as organizations with 100 to 999 employees.
Midsize businesses don’t typically have the IT horsepower seen in larger enterprises – over 70% of midsize companies have less than 24 people on their IT team. And those teams are often stretched thin, balancing time between fixing an employee’s frozen laptop screen and setting up network infrastructure across multiple campus locations.
To better understand midsize IT needs and strategies, IDG and Cisco conducted global research on midsize companies and their changing approaches to technology. Included in the research were IT and business leaders across 10+ industries, with around 20% of respondents from the financial services sector.
You can find the full study here – but below are three takeaways for midsize financial services companies.
1. 2021 Business goals are going back to basics
IDG’s research found that midsize companies are looking to increase their operational efficiency, which in turn should lead to profitability. Midsize businesses also say that they plan to focus on increasing cybersecurity.
Following the business goals, IT and business leaders in midsize organizations plan to structure their IT investments accordingly. Respondents say they plan to prioritize investments in cybersecurity, cloud solutions, and hardware. And it all starts with their top priority of operating more efficiently in a time of disruption (cited by 44% of leaders at midsize companies).
And as efficiency should ultimately improve the bottom line, a secondary business goal for midsize businesses heading into 2021 is improving profitability (cited by 40% of respondents).
Source: Cisco/IDG, 2021.
2. Legacy infrastructure remains a roadblock
Although midsize businesses say they plan to invest in hardware, 49% say that outdated and siloed infrastructure is the largest obstacle to meeting their business goals. Legacy hardware poses security threats and can slow operations. On the other hand, these challenges can be mitigated by the automation and advanced analytics features available in intent-based networking solutions.
A fast and reliable network architecture can provide an essential foundation for running the cloud and SaaS solutions that banks and financial services firms are increasingly using.
3. Security is spurring a move to SaaS and cloud solutions
One of the strongest themes that emerged from the research is that midsize companies are accelerating their move to cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. 68% of midsize organizations say they increased their cloud usage in 2020 in response to the pandemic. And for midsize financial services firms, cloud is the top technology investment area for 2021.
When we go a layer deeper, we learn that security is an underlying factor in this shift to SaaS. Over half (53%) of financial services firms rank data security as the top reason they’re investing in SaaS. (This number is slightly higher for financial services than the other industries included in the research.)
Given the large numbers of employees now working remotely, cloud-based solutions are an easy win for employee and customer experience. Teams can work and collaborate from their mobiles or their desktops, while maintaining productivity and efficiency. Fundamental for financial services firms, though, is protecting company and customer data – via both dedicated cloud security products or integrated cloud-based solutions.
Learn more about Midsize approaches to IT investments
To read the full IDG/Cisco study on midsize businesses, and to dive deeper into developing technology strategies to meet your business goals, explore our website.