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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.

Poly empowering platform-independent collaboration for hybrid workplaces of all types and business sizes

Communication, collaboration, and human connections are a central component to virtually all business activities. In today’s business environment, we interact at all points in the business cycle: in cross-functional planning and management, within a single co-created document or spreadsheet, in the stages and connection points defined by our business processes. From a supplier’s perspective, these are both encouraging and daunting times. SMB and midmarket customers are eager to acquire collaboration capabilities. Still, at the same time, they are far more demanding in terms of the scope of those capabilities, and their expectation, that any tool can seamlessly connect to any other.

Collaboration and video-conferencing are increasingly crucial to SMB business success. They are among the top five technology priorities to satisfy their desire to make employees more productive in a hybrid work environment. Techaisle’s latest global survey of N=2450 SMBs shows that 73% are increasing investments in collaboration solutions. As SMBs tighten budgets, conferencing solutions take center stage. While these solutions have been around for a long time, Techaisle believes that broad adoption among SMBs is upon us, as evidenced by the priority assigned to such technologies versus the pre-pandemic penetration level. There are many solutions that SMBs can take advantage of, and no technology other than video conferencing has consistently shown the promise of high adoption rates in recent times.

Poly, with its audio and video intelligent software, is well-positioned to drive platform-independent, cloud-managed, unified communication and collaboration adoption within the SMB segment.

Why Poly for SMBs and Midmarket firms

Poly is a company that empowers human connections for remote work and the impending return to the office. Formed in 2019 with Polycom’s acquisition by Plantronics, Poly is on a mission to deliver a comprehensive set of endpoints for the unified communications and collaboration market through differentiating software. Two strong players, both leaders in their respective audio and video technology areas – came together to pave the way in the era of digital transformation, taking human communication, be it collaboration at home or office, to the next level. It is, indeed, succeeding.

Polycom devices, such as Trio or Soundstation family, have been the default choice for audio conferencing. Most SMBs that Techaisle has surveyed refer to Poly as Polycom. Trio with Poly logo is not on office/home desks yet, but it will be. After all, it has only been a year and a half since the new logo and company name announcement. Within the last 12-18 months, the design language has evolved at Poly, resulting in a refresh of its entire product and services portfolio.

While it is true that the average SMB user may not know the Poly brand, it has over 400K customers worldwide. It is relatively widely known as the conferencing leader in the midmarket and enterprise IT community. Many small businesses use consumer devices, conferencing hardware from PC/Smartphone OEMs, tools from meeting service providers, mainly due to aggressive marketing and pricing models. We feel there is nothing to prevent newly formed Poly from becoming a stronger player in this market.

Poly’s portfolio is so comprehensive that it addresses the needs of the enterprise, SMB, and home-office workers covering different workstyles – conference rooms, desk phones, large rooms, huddle rooms, video conferencing devices, and on-the-go headsets. 95% of Poly’s employees work remotely / from home and use Poly products.

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New Windows 10 PCs are a strategic investment for SMBs in the modern world of work

To understand the differences in cost, productivity, security vulnerabilities, and business benefits between newer, <4year, Windows 10 PCs and older, 4+ years, Windows 10 PCs, Techaisle recently conducted a global study, surveying business and technology decision-makers in 2085 SMBs. Microsoft sponsored the study.

The study exposed the actual dollar cost of lost productivity that unbeknownst to most SMBs are chipping away at profitability. It also revealed the number of productive work hours lost per year and an increase in security exposures. The survey research also identified vital business benefits SMBs experienced after replacing older Windows 10 PCs with newer Windows 10 PCs.

Download the full white paper here

Key findings of the study are:

Older Windows 10 PCs reduce productivity, increase operational costs, diminish security

  • 40% of SMBs have either no PC refresh policy or are not following the system, and 32% of Windows 10 PCs in use are 4+ years old
  • Older 4+ year Windows 10 PCs reduce IT efficiency and productivity, resulting in 70 hours of productive time lost per year per PC
  • The total cost of owning and maintaining a 4+ year-old Windows 10 PC is US$1,525, which is 3.3X of newer Windows 10 PCs
  • Older Windows 10 PCs experience 3X more malware attacks and 3.5x more phishing attacks than more modern Windows 10 PCs
  • 67% of SMBs experienced a security breach within the last year, resulting in an average of 3.3% of revenue lost

New Windows 10 PCs reduce costs, improve productivity, increase security, provide better cloud experience

  • 69% of SMBs surveyed agreed that new Windows 10 PCs reduced overall costs
  • SMBs mentioned that the use of newer Windows 10 PCs leads to significant improvements in application performance: 2.6X less frequent application crashes, 2.5X fewer incidents of notebook battery depleting too soon, 2.2X fewer occurrences of slowing applications as compared to older Windows 10 PCs
  • 43% of SMBs say that "better security features" is one reason for purchasing new Windows 10 PCs and is among the top decision factors, and 77% consider it the second ultimate feature when purchasing new PCs

Replacing older Windows 10 PCs is a strategic investment in productivity and security for SMBs in the new world of work

As per Techaisle's global SMB survey, sponsored by Microsoft, a new Windows 10 PC has a significant impact on employees' productivity, delivering improved performance, better security, remote working, and manageability features. SMBs with an aging PC portfolio face several problems. Older PCs tend to be slower, harder to equip with current software, are more prone to crashes and failures, lack the latest connectivity capabilities, and miss much-needed built-in hardware security features, all of which harm business.

Older PCs, especially those past their extended support windows, increase security threat profile, endangering users, data, applications, and devices. Productivity suffers, IT support increases, IT efficiency deteriorates, business agility weakens, profitability decreases, workstyle and workflow suffer, post-pandemic recovery sputters.

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Channel partners developing best practices for digital transformation

Digital transformation provides enormous opportunities for the channel partner, particularly the reseller community, that has been negatively impacted by the recent economic downshift. Although 71% of partners offer digital transformation solutions to their customers, only 10% help their customers integrate digitalized processes to deliver real digital transformation business outcomes. Channel partners focusing on a single type of product or service cannot act as trusted partners in digital transformation. Instead, they become suppliers to an ecosystem that other solution providers are tapping into as they work with customers to evolve digital transformation capabilities.

Digital transformation is demanding that channel partners develop extensive new capabilities and best practices. It also offers a means of establishing a business-level customer relationship to secure ongoing/escalating account revenue and influence, which will improve the business outlook (and enterprise value) of firms able to capitalize on customer need for digital transformation support.

Techaisle surveyed and studied channel partners globally to understand the best practices and critical competencies that channel partners are building to be more successful than others.

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Post-pandemic lead generation is proving problematic for channel partners

Six months have changed how SMBs and enterprises operate, how employees work, how customers purchase, and how products/services get delivered. A shift in go-to-market imperatives has become problematic for channel partners. Techaisle leveraged its panel of 225K channel partners to understand the impact of the pandemic on channel business. 49% of channel partners have allocated resources and budget for lead generation, but 60% rely on leads from vendors, an increase of 18% from pre-pandemic. 29% more channel partners than previously are finding social media as one of the most effective methods of lead generation. 46% of partners have increased their usage of analytics to drive leads, and 60% have increased influencer marketing.

Techaisle survey research data also shows that for 42% of channel partners, driving growth is the top business issue, especially with a clear focus on increasing the effectiveness of sales and marketing. Despite pandemic, 68% of channel partners expect revenue increases in the next year but have tempered their revenue growth expectations from 19% to slightly over 10%. Channel partners deploying digital transformation solutions expect ~2X revenue increase compared to those who are still not focused on digital transformation offerings for their customer base.

The requirement to focus on digital discovery conveys some hard truths. The first is that channel partners need to reach a large and diverse buyer population, extending beyond the IT department into business units and the executive suite, which means that marketers need to create and place various messages to keep the sales process on track. Another important implication is that prospects who engage with a vendor will represent a relatively small subset of the total potential market, as many buyers will disqualify suppliers before drafting a potential vendor list. The third implication follows the first two: to maximize the addressable market; channel partners need to embrace digital marketing as a way to gain entree to accounts that have not yet self-identified as prospects. Channel partners that rely on traditional lead generation campaigns realize that these funnels are reaching a diminishing share of the market.

Marketing has not been a primary focus for most channel businesses, and those that have invested in marketing staff have typically tasked them with optimizing access to vendor investment funds. Marketing’s need to add advanced digital competencies is challenging most channel partners. Vendors will need to provide programs that support content and digital marketing to ensure that their partners can engage with the largest possible number of prospective clients. Techaisle’s research highlights the core issue. Buyers, working in teams that average 5.1 individuals, typically don’t have meaningful contact with a supplier until they are 70% of the way through the purchase process.

All four of the top IT suppliers – Dell Technologies, Cisco, HPE, and IBM – have made partner marketing a priority.

  • Dell Technologies’ Cheryl Cook, SVP, Global Partner Marketing, is made it a mission to equip and educate partners with a series of guided podcasts and webinars
  • Cisco’s Boon Lai, VP, Global Partner Marketing, is enhancing the marketing velocity program
  • HPE’s Laura Seymour, Senior Director, Global Channel Marketing, is focused on Marketing Pro and Partner Marketing Concierge
  • IBM’s Catherine Solazzo, VP, Partner Ecosystem Performance Marketing is driving My Digital Marketing platform

If the customer journey begins with research conducted via the web, the marketing imperative must start with digital discovery. The channel partner marketing teams should take advantage of their IT suppliers’ initiatives, invest in putting thought leadership messages in front of prospective customers, and in the processes required to nurture new contacts to the point where they become sales-ready leads. Leaders at traditional channel partners will recognize this endpoint – but the process needed to arrive at this point is much different in the post-pandemic world.

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