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The small to midsize business market may not be ready to grasp technology the way enterprise and midsize businesses have, but there are routes to the space that are more open than others, said Andrea Peiro, a small business maven.

“Small business owners are unsophisticated about using technology, but they are not unsophisticated about their business,” Peiro told SMB VARs gathered for the World of Difference Learning and Development Conference on Jan.26 in New York.

“They know their core competencies and how to run a business. They’re ready to adopt technology that helps them do it.”

Peiro, founder and chief executive officer of the Small Business Technology Institute, a nonprofit organization educating small business (fewer than 300 employees) about technology adoption, said this fact makes the market ready to adopt four “hot button” solutions—VOIP, Business Management, Security and Data Availability and Distributed Workplace technology.

To read why Andrea Peiro, CEO of the Small Business Technology Institute, thinks VARs have only 12 months to reach SMB customers, click here.

  • VOIP (voice over IP): Small businesses still have multiple locations and many have issues with their phone bills, especially those with foreign locations, Peiro said.

    “This one is so easy,” he said. “You can sell VOIP to one of these guys in half an hour. The ROI [Return On Investment] is so big, it’s not even funny. Get on the bandwagon. Not rocket science. The price is right, the quality is right. Don’t wait on this.”

    The solution also offers opportunities for service agreements and recurring revenue.

  • Integrate Business Management: “For a small business, one wrong decision can wipe them out,” Peiro said. “Too often they overextend themselves because they have no idea what their cash flow looks like.”

    Offering a small business owner insight into his or her business, without calling accountants, or reviewing the books, gets them excited, he said.

    VARs should be able to relate easily to the solution, as most are themselves small businesses and should use their own experience to promote the technology, he said.

    “If you go in there and tell them ‘You’ll be able to decide in 10 minutes whether you can take on a $4 million piece of business,’ do you think they’ll care about [the price]?” he said.

  • Security and Data Availability: With small businesses relying more on technology, they are more vulnerable and the point is easy to demonstrate, Peiro said.

    “Tell them to take their laptop and put it in a drawer and go back to work. Keep it in that drawer for three days,” he said.

    “That’s how you’d feel if you had a crash. Let’s see what you can and can’t do. They’ll say, ‘Let’s talk.’”

  • Distributed Workplace: The SMB is best at keeping costs down, and one solution they’ve regularly deployed is keeping employees, even owners out of the office, Peiro said.

    Anything that helps them perform in a mobile manner is attractive, he said.

    “Keeping people busy at home and on the road is key,” he said. “Who sells in your company, for many it’s the owner. If you are in an airport, you still need to be available. Distributed workplace and collaboration let’s you do it… Whether I am in a cab, or on a 45-minute commute, it doesn’t matter, I can work. That’s no longer adding stress.”

    Technology such as tablet PCs, collaborative environments, SMS, portals, remote access, VPN are all interesting to SMBs.