SMBs Basking in IT Industry AttentionBy John Pallatto | Print
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Opinion: SMBs are getting a chance to buy some of the same sophisticated information systems that only large enterprises once could afford to buy. The question is, are they also acquiring enterprise-scale headaches?
IT companies frequently talk as if the small and midsize business market they are all competing to serve is some newly discovered continent that is theirs to conquer.
But the fact is that companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Computer Associates, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and a host of others have been selling hardware or software to SMBs for virtually as long as they have been in business. For more than 40 years IBM has been selling everything from Selectric typewriters to midrange computers the size of kitchen stoves to any SMB willing to pay for them.
These days they all put out press releases touting how much of the SMB market they command to impress the world with just how SMB-friendly they truly are.
What is really happening is that since the post-2001 IT recession, the industry has realized that most large enterprises have already modernized their computer systems and implemented high-end ERP (enterprise resource planning) suites and accounting, financial management, CRM (customer relationship management), sales automation and even manufacturing systems.
These companies are now spending money on incremental and strategic technology acquisitions aimed at solving specific business pain points or to fix headaches caused by their original ERP implementations.
The industry views SMBs as fertile ground not just because they make up a huge portion of the national economy. The SMB market is attractive because it hasn't been saturated with sales of ERP systems. This is mainly because it used to be SMBs and frequently the vendors themselves assumed that such big-ticket items were financially and technically out of their league. In many cases they were right.
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