2018 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges


    Global SMB and Channel Partner Market Research Organization


    US Midmarket Digital Transformation Trends


    US SMB & Midmarket SaaS Adoption Trends


    US technology adoption trends by SMB IT sophistication


    Understanding SMB & Midmarket Buyers Journey


    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption Trends


    SMB & Midmarket Security Adoption Trends


    SMB & Midmarket Mobility Adoption Trends


    SMB & Midmarket IoT Adoption Trends


    SMB Data You Can Rely On | Analysis You Can Act Upon
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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Worldwide focus on SMB and Channel Partners market research and industry analysis.

Video collaboration is necessary for SMB business agility – decision agility, innovation agility

It is common knowledge that cloud is being adopted by SMBs and midmarket businesses for business agility. Techaisle’s SMB & midmarket cloud adoption study data shows that 80 percent of SMBs consider cloud to be contributing to business growth and video-enabled collaboration is playing an ever-increasing role in contributing to business agility for high-growth and innovative businesses. But why?

Because Innovation happens best in collaboration and not in isolation.

High-growth, highly innovative SMBs and midmarket businesses differ greatly from low-growth firms in their use of advanced collaboration technologies. High-growth firms pursue a wide range of collaboration-related benefits – more rapid decision-making capacity, improved employee productivity, richer engagement with customers, and better internal collaboration – and make extensive use of face-to-face (F2F) video systems.

Techaisle survey data shows that initial centricity of file sharing is giving way to rich in-person interactive communications in collaboration strategies.

What are the key elements of a collaboration framework that can help IT decision makers (ITDMs) and business decision makers (BDMs) come to a mutual understanding of how, where and why to use video-enabled collaboration solutions, in particular, F2F video? To answer this question, Techaisle conducted a survey of 1,269 ITDMs and BDMs with SMBs and midmarket businesses, across the US, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

Techaisle’s research identified key characteristics that distinguish these low-growth, moderate growth and high-growth/innovative businesses. As figure below demonstrates, use of face-to-face video (F2F video) is correlated with important outcomes within their businesses. Collectively, these attributes align strongly with market success. Techaisle’s research found that the high adopters of video grew nearly 2X faster than other low or non-adopters and they reported even more benefits from using video than slower growing businesses. By using video-enabled collaboration there are only upsides for businesses.

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Salesforce for SMBs – The Power of Sales and Service Together on One Platform

My days of being critical of Salesforce and their SMB strategy are over. With the introduction of Sales Cloud Essentials and Service Cloud Essentials, Salesforce has once again become relevant for SMBs, especially for the very small (1-19 employees) and overall small business (1-99 employees) segments. For an SMB, CRM is not only – or even primarily – a system used to manage pursuit of new accounts. The most common use of CRM is as a means of organizing customer services. Techaisle SMB & midmarket survey shows:

  • 18% of micro businesses (1-9 employees) are using a cloud CRM solution
  • Cloud CRM usage within small businesses has increased by 31% in the last 1 year
  • 40% of small businesses are planning to use a cloud CRM solution in the next 1 year
  • 15% of micro businesses (1-9 employees) are using a cloud Customer services solution
  • Cloud Customer Services usage within small businesses has increased by 15% in the last 1 year
  • 49% of small businesses are planning to use a Customer services solution in the next 1 year
  • 73% of very small businesses (1-19 employees) using CRM are also using Customer services
  • 56% of very small businesses (1-19 employees) using Customer services are also using CRM

Sales & Service together for better customer relationship management

Small businesses often struggle with processes around customer relationship management – maintaining contact with past buyers, preparing for renewals or new product upgrades, informing them of service releases, etc. – and a CRM system provides a central means of scheduling and tracking these activities with/for each customer.

The improved visibility resulting from cloud-based sales and marketing automation systems has in turn illuminated the need for a better-integrated customer management and support processes. This insight is prompting increased investment in systems automating customer support tasks.

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Digital Transformation Challenging the Channel - Five key issues

20% of channel partners are offering “digital transformation”, but most common is “digitalization” at 46% and balance 34% are still at the basic “digitization”. MSPs/SPs are the laggards and VARs/SIs the leaders. Among vendors, Dell & Cisco partners are leading the charge. The channel industry examined by Techaisle’s 2018 SMB/Midmarket focused channel research survey is very different from the community that existed a decade ago. Once a staid domain in which technologists provided IT infrastructure support to (mainly) local customers, the channel is being reshaped by five key issues in the face of digital transformation:

  1. Cloud, and its wrenching effect on all aspects of the channel business structure – only 69% of are partners selling cloud, out of which less than 2/3rd are successful
  2. Managed services efficiencies, especially vs. the pending opportunity associated with digital transformation – 77% are selling managed services but 50% are increasing on-site break-fix support
  3. Increasingly-complex data center technologies - there is a skills shortage in the SMB channel
  4. Orchestration & integration demands that are expanding in multiple directions – cloud orchestration expected to be a high-revenue growth area for only 23% of partners
  5. The need to sell on and deliver to business outcomes rather than technical outcomes

The data in the report illustrates the extent to which these factors are affecting channel management decisions today and influencing the future directions. The report covers:

  • What is the state of channel?
  • What does the channel offer?
  • Where does the channel land on digital transformation, orchestration & integration?
  • What does the channel want from vendors & distributors?
  • How does the channel sell?
  • What is channel doing in the cloud?
  • What is channel doing in managed services?
  • What data center solutions is the channel selling?

With digital transformation as the backdrop, let us look at a summary of the five issues highlighted above:

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SMB and Midmarket digital transformation needs orchestration

“IT and cloud orchestration” reflects the reality of a multi-platform world in the era of digital transformation. Techaisle research shows that within the SMB & midmarket segment, orchestrated connected cloud and technology will be the focus of substantial new investment over the next few years. Connected cloud itself forms the basis for an Interwork platform for successful digital transformation and is crucial for competitiveness and growth.

  • Upper midmarket firms use an average of 2.5 of the four leading public cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM) – a true multi-cloud environment
  • For 25% of small businesses and 51% of midmarket firms, workloads and data migrate across cloud and/or on-premise platforms
  • 89% of midmarket firms state that orchestration tools are critical to their ability to deploy workloads on hybrid platforms
  • 46% of SMBs do not know which cloud services to use and in what order
  • 47% of SMB/midmarket-focused channel partners are offering orchestration but only 24% are delivering, but 55% are expecting substantial revenue increases in the next 1 year
  • Use of orchestration is poised for growth as 40% of midmarket firms and 15% of small businesses are implementing cloud connectivity

Using a large number of on-premise technology as well as cloud platforms is escalating complexity beyond reasonable manual management limits. In response to this conundrum, many SMBs & midmarket firms are turning to orchestration as a strategy for optimizing use of multiple platforms and multiple technologies (topic of another blog another time). But help and guidance are missing. Even Techaisle’s latest channel partner study shows that although 47% offer orchestration but only 24% are delivering, and that also partially. Their vendor partners are not helping because of intense focus on enterprise segment.

In the quest for digitalization and digital transformation there has been ad hoc adoption of technology – both cloud & on-premise - as responses to paint points within SMBs.

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