Survey results: VARs report customers’ IT spending 2012 expectations

Jane Wright, Site Editor

The results of TechTarget Inc.’s annual Channel Directions survey indicate VARs and solution providers expect their customers to spend more on security in 2012, with the most growth coming from projects involving mobile device security and cloud security.

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Customer spending on email security, however, is expected to plummet in the coming year.

TechTarget surveyed nearly 1,000 IT professionals who are employed by a VAR or solution provider company, or who are self-employed and identify their businesses as VARs or solution providers, to find out their expectations for their customers' IT spending 2012 plans. The online survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Expected customer spending on IT in 2012
VARs and solution providers were asked about the increases and reductions they expect to see in their customers’ spending on all types of IT products and services in 2012.

Figure 1. Expected IT spending increases in 2012.

Respondents expect to see the most growth in customer spending on security. They expect security spending to grow faster than spending on hardware purchases, software purchases, networking and other IT areas in 2012. Figure 1, Expected IT spending increases in 2012, shows 21% of respondents cited security as an area where they expect their customers to increase spending.  (Respondents could select up to three areas.)

Figure 2. Expected IT spending reductions in 2012.

On the other hand, VARs and solution providers indicated IT staffing is the area they expect the most significant reduction in customer spending in 2012. They expect hardware purchases to be the next hardest hit in 2012 IT budgets.  As figure 2, Expected IT spending reductions in 2012 shows, only 6% of respondents believe their customers will reduce spending on security in 2012.

Figure 3. Security products and services, 2011 and 2012.

Important security segments
In the survey, VARs and solution providers were asked to detail the security products and services they currently provide to their customers, and the security products and services they expect to be most important to their business in 2012. The results are shown in figure 3, Security products and services, 2011 and 2012. (For this question, respondents could select as many security areas they wished.)

Email security products and services were the main security focus for VARs and solution providers in 2011, but this is expected to change dramatically in 2012. Instead, customers will more often rely on their VARs and solution providers to help them secure their mobile devices and manage cloud security in 2012.

Challenges when selling security products and services
VARs and solution providers were asked to identify the biggest technical and business challenges they face when selling security products and services.

Figure 4. Biggest technical challenges.

Most respondents selected interoperability with existing products and services as their biggest technical challenge, followed by setup and configuration issues. On a positive note, most respondents feel well supported by their vendor partners, as shown in figure 4, Biggest technical challenges.

Figure 5. Biggest business challenges.

Considering business challenges, VARs and solution providers are most concerned about the risks they face if a customer is breached or attacked. Respondents are also struggling with the negative impact of the economy on their customers’ businesses. This is shown in figure 5, Biggest business challenges.

Survey respondent profile
The Channel Directions 2012 survey was fielded in the fall of 2011 by soliciting responses from readers in the TechTarget portfolio of websites who work as value-added resellers (VARs), systems integrators, consultants or managed service providers (MSPs). The survey, which has been conducted annually since 2007, had a total of 577 qualified responses. Vendor and end-user respondents were disqualified from the survey.

Survey respondents included technical and engineering staff, sales and marketing staff, executive officers and founders of technology businesses. They define their businesses as IT consulting firms, value-added resellers, managed service providers, independent software vendors and systems integrators. Their customers are primarily small businesses with less than 100 employees. They derive their revenue mostly from product sales, although services and consulting also make up significant portions of their revenue. The majority of the respondents are located in North America.

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