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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.

Dell XPS 13 – Straight from the heart

Since the last 3 years I have been listening to Jeff Clarke, Dell’s vice-chairman of Operations and president of Client Solutions, and his team talk about innovation within Dell and how XPS-13, Dell’s flagship, initially consumer-focused and now business-ready notebook, is one of the most innovative laptops in the market. I must confess that after every meeting I walked away with a bit of cynicism. Every single time I had questions but no answers. Did a borderless InfinityEdge display define innovation? Did premium materials explain innovation? Did high-performance describe innovation? What about the issues that small businesses really cared about – improve productivity, provide security, easy manageability, exceptional support and low price? These would certainly count towards innovation. But then many of these improvements are usually driven by underlying software and not the hardware.

I have been a ThinkPad user for most of my working life – from my IDC days in Hong Kong to present time at Techaisle. Except for the time period when I was at Gartner. I am not a case of old-habits-die-hard but I have had a genuine admiration for the IBM & now Lenovo ThinkPad series. It never needed any support, except for that one occasion when I foolishly crushed it that cracked the screen. There was also a period as an analyst when I maintained three different brands. HP notebooks to bring to meetings with HP, IBM/Lenovo for their respective meetings, and Dell for meetings with Dell. However, I realized that a ThinkPad brand was one of the most non-controversial notebook to bring to meetings & presentations without evoking any sarcastic banter.

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The connection between managed services and SMB business and IT challenges

The subject of “IT/business alignment” has been a hot topic of debate for many years. Yet despite this interest, business and IT interests and objectives frequently diverge. To some extent, this is inevitable: the business is concerned with issues that extend beyond IT, and IT needs to manage issues that are (at least, as long as they are working) beneath the notice of most business professionals. However, today’s business environment is increasingly dependent on IT support, and IT products and services that improve productivity and efficiency or which expand market reach and potential. IT initiatives that can be linked meaningfully to broader business objectives are best positioned to attract corporate support – meaning that products and services that address key business priorities have the greatest potential for growth.

The Techaisle SMB survey, which captured the perspectives of both business decision makers (BDMs) and IT decision makers (ITDMs) in US SMBs ranging from 1-999 employees, looked at key business issues and in particular IT challenges. The list of the most important IT challenges faced by SMBs such as budget constraints and the need to control IT costs and improve justification for new IT investments are both tied to the goal of reducing operational cost, and effective maintenance of current IT infrastructure contributes to reduction in operational uncertainty, and thereby get linked to managed services.

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For SMBs Connected Cloud SaaS applications really matter

Techaisle’s upcoming detailed survey report on US SMB & Midmarket SaaS Adoption Trends shows evidence that connected cloud applications really matter for SMBs. 16% of SMBs have already connected SaaS applications across the enterprise and another 10% are on their enterprise-wide connected SaaS journey. These SMBs are getting the benefits of business growth, enterprise agility, corporate efficiency, collaboration and alignment.

Cloud is the agility platform and SaaS offers a zero-friction option for automating processes. The first entry point to cloud in many SMBs is the purchase of a specific business application by a business user. A typical example is of SMB marketing acquiring a SaaS application to help with social presence management, or sales, as is often the case, acquiring a cloud based CRM to track opportunities. Each of these disconnected siloed SaaS applications do provide real & immediate benefits in terms of enhancing individual productivity and enhancing morale and helping with recruitment of tech savvy new workers. However, where cloud starts to differentiate itself and create meaningful impact for SMBs is in connected automation across related activities and applications categories.

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Europe and US SMBs - Managed services support growth and savings

US and European SMB buyers believe that managed services contribute to both cost savings and to business growth. As the figures below show, managed services is seen as helping buyers to achieve lower IT costs, greater control over IT environments, and higher performance with less IT downtime; managed services also helps businesses to “maintain a lean business environment” and to provide predictable performance, user experience and cost. On the growth side of the equation, superior (relative to internal options) MSP responsiveness to IT problems is seen as a means of achieving better productivity; MSPs are also seen as helping SMBs to maintain focus on core business competency, staying abreast of technology changes and providing support for business continuity and disaster recovery.

54% of US SMBs and 68% of Europe SMBs say that managed services help improve bottom-line, contribute to profitability and reduce costs. On the flip side, 46% and 32% respectively state that they view and have experienced managed services as a technology contributing to growth and revenue. A more detailed look at the data underlying this summary analysis illustrates the many benefits that SMBs obtain from managed services (and MSPs).

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