IT spending by small businesses is on the rebound, according to a report commissioned by Microsoft.
Some 63 percent of the 500 Microsoft channel partners surveyed expect their SMB customers to increase spending in 2010, compared to 25 percent that expected an increase last year.SMB IT expenditure represents 44 percent of the total market, according to a recent Gartner report that said it would hit $800 billion (£520 billion) this year.
SMB spending will rise an average of 16 percent during the year, predicted the respondents - who are based in the UK, US, Canada, Brazil and India. The news comes as Microsoft competitor and IT industry bellwether IBM reported a 13 percent jump in profits and heralded a long term wider upturn.
SMBs will largely direct their IT spending towards steps such as cutting operational costs, improving employee productivity, or acquiring and retaining customers, the Microsoft survey found.
Forty one percent of those surveyed said SMBs saw server virtualisation and IT consolidation as the best way to use technology to cut costs. Software as a service was another popular choice, alongside better customer relationship management. Seventy four percent of Microsoft channel partners said SMBs will increase their number of remote workers.
Birger Steen, a VP of SMB business at the supplier, said: "The most competitive SMBs are investing in IT that will not only help protect and strengthen their business, but prepare them for success when economic conditions improve."