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New research commissioned by IBM (news, site) suggests that most mid-sized companies have put the recession behind them and will be focusing on the deployment of new technologies, particularly analytics, over the next 12 months. 

These companies will also be looking for collaboration software, mobile content provision and CRM solutions, the cost of which will be covered by investments in the cloud rather than on-premise software.

The research, which is contained in the Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective report, carried out independently by KS&R, is the result of survey done across 20 countries of more than 2000 mid-sized companies.

At the core of the research is the perception by companies that business analytics is going to deliver better customer insight -- with 70% of those surveyed actively looking at some kind of analytics software to promote business growth.

Needless to say, these are the kind of findings that IBM is really hoping for given the level of investment it has made in business analytics over the past eight years. This is also supported by a lot of other research that indicates interest in analytics is growing as is interest in cloud deployments.

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Business priorities for 2011.Colour blue indicates efficiency focus, orange indicates innovation focus

Cloud Computing in 2010 v 2011

However, this report also shows that while cost reduction was one of the principal drivers for cloud computing previously, business growth as a motivator is beginning to show up on the radar.

This becomes particularly clear when the research is compared with the corresponding research from last year. Comparisons between the current study and those from 2009 also reveal a shift from a predominant focus on cost control and efficiency to a greater emphasis on growth initiatives.

In this year’s report, 21% of companies said they were focusing on 'efficiency and cost control', with the majority (79%) concentrating on customers, growth and innovation.

In contrast, in 2009, 53% characterized their company mindset as one of "efficiency and cost control", with less than half (47%) focused on growth, innovation and customers.

Trends for 2011

This change is reflected in the increased adoption of analytics and predictive technologies that have become more affordable -- largely because of the reduced cost of cloud deployments that are now widely available for midsize companies.

Business Analytics

Business Analytics, the research showed, are generally regarded by mid-sized companies as the best way of judging marketing campaign effectiveness and, market penetration.

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IT implementations focus

As a result, 70% of the companies surveyed said they are planning to deploy this kind of software or are already in the process of implementing them, with significant IT budgets being allocated to them.

Key drivers of these solutions include assisting midsize businesses in:

  • Improving efficiencies (37%)
  • improving customer targeting and information / knowledge (37%),
  • Driving expansion strategies (15%).

Cloud Computing

To enable companies deploy the software that they regard as important in increasingly tight and competitive markets, midsize companies are looking to cloud computing for cost availability, flexibility and efficiency.

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The need for a highly flexible, resilient and efficient IT infrastructure, coupled with continued cost pressures, has intensified with many looking to take advantage of virtualized, shared architectures to make the most of their IT investments.

As a result, the research shows cloud computing continues to take hold in this regard. Computer resources, business continuity provisions, applications software as a service, or harnessing business analytic capabilities, the cloud is considered a viable alternative versus traditional one-to-one architectures.

It’s still too early in the year to say whether cloud computing will or will not become a major commercial force this year, but there is little doubt that business analytics will. If you’re interested in finding out more about these two trends in the mid-market, the report is available to download for free.