Close to 80 percent of entrepreneurs are leaning increasingly on information technology to fuel their growth plans, sometimes at the expense of hiring new employees — at least, in nine of the biggest US metropolitan regions, according to data commissioned by Dell and Intel.
The research (PDF) reflects interviews (conducted by Penn Schoen Berland) with 941 small businesses employing from 1 to 99 employees in US cities, including Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Austin, Philadelphia, Boston, and Seattle.
From a high level, the survey results illustrate that small businesses are taking technology far more seriously, even though it is becoming more complex and difficult for them to manage, the data shows. Considering who paid for the research, that's not really surprising.
There were pronounced regional differences, some of which might surprise you. For example, Seattle area companies were the least likely to view technology as a strategic asset, while those in or near Atlanta were the most likely to think this way.
Generally speaking, there is still a do-it-yourself mentality within many small businesses. Just one third of them consider a dedicated IT staff important for their success, and only 15 percent actually invested in someone on the payroll with that job title.
Instead, many handle technology decisions and tasks as part of another duty (47 percent), while approximately 42 percent handle consultants or outside technology professionals to pitch in with their needs, the Dell-Intel research suggests.