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Small and mid-size businesses have grown more tech savvy with more employees telecommuting and using mobile technology—a trend that spells greater opportunity for VARs to sell those kinds of solutions.

That’s according to a new survey commissioned by CompTIA and conducted by AMI-Partners. The research shows that as SMB work forces have become more mobile, the shift has reshaped technology spending plans for companies with 500 and fewer employees.

“The perception is that SMBs adopt technology on a value basis,” said Steven Ostrowski, a CompTIA spokesperson. “They don’t rush out and buy right away. They want to make sure there’s an ROI [return on investment]. But more and more SMBs now consider themselves upfront adopters of technologies. They’re not all waiting for things to be proven. They are willing to try new things. That is a shift.”

Nearly three out of four SMBs have at least one or more employees telecommuting and on average has 7 percent of its work force working from home at least one day per week. In addition, 90 percent of SMBs say they have one or more employees traveling for business at least one day a week.

“With a growing portion of their work force either mobile or remote, SMBs need to provide cost-effective, safe and secure remote access for these employees,” said John Venator, president and CEO of the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based CompTIA, in a statement. “This suggests there is a sizeable market opportunity associated with productivity enhancing solutions such as VPNs, smart phones and other applications.”

The research found that 44 percent of the 518 North American SMBs surveyed said they plan to invest in smart phones and 32 percent plan to invest in VPNs in the next 12 months.

The majority of SMBs surveyed rated VPNs and mobile e-mail through the use of smart phones as offering high business value and benefits, CompTIA said. Ease of scalability and increased security are among the chief perceived benefits of deploying VPNs, along with seamless end-to-end connectivity between all employees.

More than four out of five SMBs said they are either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their current IT and communications systems in terms of boosting efficiency in managing day-to-day affairs. At the same time, 70 percent said that deploying the latest convergent technologies that allow for more effective means of internal and external communication has high strategic importance, according to the CompTIA research.

“The mobility of the SMB work force has taught SMBs the value of these technologies,” Ostrowski said. They’ve become more sophisticated in what they buy and how they buy it, he added.