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2013 SMB & Channel Outlook, Trends & Predictions: Techaisle Take
All predictions below are compiled based on SMB and channel surveys conducted in 2012 covering Cloud, Mobility, Virtualization, Business Intelligence, Marketing Automation, Managed Services, Business Issues, IT Priorities, Channel Challenges across several countries.
SMB focused Predictions
- As SMBs continue to adopt cloud computing aggressively they will continue to move away from capital budgets; Revenue will become the focus rather than tight cost control. The buyer will move toward the department that is responsible for delivering business results and thereby revenue. The CMO becomes increasingly important as this unfolds. Further, countries are coming out of economic slump which was a major factor in the initial move to the Cloud, as firms were scrambling to reduce capital outlays and reduce OPEX. But SMBs are now priming themselves for growth, and the Cloud is firmly established as an important tool to build the business.
- SMBs’ emphasis on front-office, revenue-generating applications will continue with CRM at the hub and with more marketing automation and business intelligence applications. The base of marketing automation vendors will continue to consolidate as start-ups fail and pure-plays are acquired and big players roll out integrated solutions. Cloud CRM spend will continue to grow at a healthy rate of 21 percent.
- Communications, Collaboration, Content and Context will be the primary computing scenarios of SMB IT departments, driven by Mobility, Cloud-based Applications and Process Optimization. Virtualization, Cloud, Mobility, Managed Services will together form the Four Pillars of IT that will support the transformation of SMB, enabling them to reach their full potential in the shortest period of time. The foundation for these four pillars will be the datacenter, both off-site and on-premise depending upon SMB segmentation. Techaisle forecasts that global SMB Cloud spend will grow by 22 percent in 2013, Mobility by 14 percent, Managed Services by 15 percent, Virtualization by 25 percent and datacenter by 8 percent.
- The adoption of cloud-based productivity suites among SMBs will accelerate which will begin to balance usage of collaborative and individual SaaS applications. Office365 will go main stream along with increased usage of ERP and more sophisticated applications, offering new customer and other value-added opportunities in data and application integration. We expect SMB Cloud productivity suites spend will almost double from relatively slow adoption through 2012.
- There will be a significant increase in emphasis on data integration rather than application integration; data will be combined from several sources to power different application blocks and embedded business intelligence functionality, as we first predicted in 2008.
- The SMB server and network will start becoming less visible as they progressively move offsite physically and from a remote management perspective. Cloud-based server spend will likely grow by 40 percent as compared to on-premise new server spend growth of 5 percent, the benefits of remote management overwhelming the on premise for headcount-constrained firms.
- Although social media will gain importance, SMBs will continue to struggle to determine ROMI from their social media initiatives and its usage will be considered a “productivity drainer” by many lean-staffed and short-skilled SMBs, unless they are in a local business that requires high customer intimacy to grow and build business. Aggressive SMB adopters will realize benefits but many others will be disillusioned unless advised, encouraged and shown a path by early adopters. The market will be inundated by advisors causing more confusion, especially as big data analytics start showing strong results for Enterprise-level companies.
- ISVs will focus their attention on developing client applications that integrate email, context and workflow to build other productivity applications. New business models and solutions from ISVs and Service providers will appear for SMB mobile apps that will deliver content based on context, beginning with a few verticals and then spreading horizontally.
- BYOD will be the new normal; with priority for SMBs on data and applications management rather than managing devices.
- The next generation of business intelligence and Mobile BI will be widely adopted within SMBs; Upper mid-market firms will experiment Big Data using combinations of Hadoop and other technology (e.g. Greenplum) whereas lower-mid-market and small businesses will look for insights from federated big data deliverables provisioned by cloud application vendors.
Channel Partner focused Predictions
- There will be an accelerating trend to vendor direct through development of remote integrated-service interfaces and inbound marketing initiatives. To counter, channel partners will aggressively develop outbound sales capabilities to compete with vendor direct sales and rise of the Independent Consultant to prevent from being cut out of the distribution chain.
- Successful Channels will finally realize and pursue their individual respective competencies and roles as consultants, business process advisors, integrators, aggregators or plain vanilla cloud deliverers.
- Expect that channel partners will be more successful going deep with integrated suites or a few applications that they integrate rather than trying to provide a complete infrastructure, communications, applications and vertical solutions.
- Channel partners will begin to put together a repeatable, profitable SMB solution that will include proprietary integration value-added services or software, accelerated with productivity suites and collaborative combinations, such as Office 365 and SharePoint, or Google Apps, or the new Citrix ApplicationMe@Work or XenDesktop.
- Cloud aggregators will continue to enter the market, however, few will be profitable as aggregators will need to be able manage reseller relationships with structured sales and marketing programs, implementation and post-implementation support for the channel, and tier-2 customer support for end users.
- Mid-market focused channels will look up to their vendor partners to help combine mobility, cloud, virtualization offerings while others will rely on a partner-to-partner network