SMB Technology Hunger GrowsBy Pedro Pereira | Posted 2007-10-18 Email Print
Opinion: As SMBs keep the economy afloat, vendors must support solution providers serving the market space.
The SMB market rules, plain and simple. Gone are the days of technology hand-me-downs from the enterprise.
That is not to say that every last vendor gets it yet, but the signals are strong that for the most part IT vendors are catching on to the importance of serving the needs of small and midsize businesses. In the process, they are working to tighten relationships with the VARs, integrators, service providers and consultants that know and serve the SMB market.
By far, most of the job creation in the United States happens at companies with 500 employees or fewer, according to government statistics. Much of the U.S. economy, in fact, rides on the money made and spent by these companies, of which there are about 6 million.
Small and midsize companies this year collectively will spend a projected 241 billion in technology, according to AMI-Partners. Take a moment to digest that, for it is a respectable number, and it represents a roughly 6 percent increase from the $227 billion SMB buyers spent on IT in 2006.
SMB companies are gobbling up technology in a wide range of categories. We're not just talking about a PC and printer anymore.
This month's cover story in eWEEK Strategic Partner, a sister publication of The Channel Insider, reports on the mind-boggling array of IT solutions available to SMB customers today. Everything from laptops and wireless routers to complex security, storage and business continuity systems is finding its way to companies in that vast market space.
As these companies go about their business, they look to technology to shape business strategy and accommodate further growth. To achieve those goals, businesses turn to solution providers that deliver the requisite expertise, services and equipment.
One area of rapid growth is mobility and telecommuting, according to IT trade association CompTIA, which recently commissioned a study by AMI on SMB technology spending.
Nearly three out of four SMBs have at least one employee who telecommutes, the study found. On average, SMB companies have 7 percent of their employees working from home one or more days per week.
The study also found that 10 percent of the SMB work force is mobile and 90 percent of SMB companies have at least one employee traveling a minimum of one day per week.
As a result, companies that a few years ago would have been reluctant to adopt new technology are these days making investments in VPNs, mobile devices and various applications to support secure remote access.
This means that even some of the smaller companies are no longer content to play laggard in adopting technology. They are making strategic decisions based on the expectation that smart phones, remote access and business applications will act as a vehicle to better productivity and increased profits.
This of course puts solution providers in the enviable position of serving a market that is hungry for more, while putting pressure on vendors to not only develop targeted technology but also support the channel partners that get the technology into customer environments.
Rather than focus on volume alone, vendors must intensify their efforts to help solution providers with marketing and technical know-how.
The SMB market is dynamic and its IT spending shows no signs of letting up. The vendors that best support their channel partners in meeting the market's needs are going to win.
Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for The Channel Insider. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.