Across geographies (US, Germany, Australia and India) and across different years, small businesses are showing remarkable uniformity and consistency in their response to which value statement best describes their business. We first asked small businesses in 2010 (for India in 2012) to tell us which one of the following statements best described their business success:
- Business success depends upon a strong relationship with the customer & being responsive to their demands
- Business success depends upon implementing highly efficient & optimized processes to deliver products/ services at the lowest possible cost
- Business success depends upon implementing cost effective IT solutions to improve productivity, efficiency and profitability
- Business success depends upon ability to consistently innovate and bring cutting edge products to market
We did expect customer relationship to be garnering highest number of responses. What we did not expect was the rapid rise in efficient process implementation with the size of business. We certainly did not expect the same sentiment to be represented across four different countries – US, Germany, Australia and India.
In 2014 we repeated the question to a completely different random sample of small businesses and we got similar responses across all countries.
The data clearly shows that for very small businesses, business success is dependent upon customer delight whereas for 50-99 employee size businesses, process efficiency and optimization also become important. The data consistency exhibits that irrespective of size or maturity of country, small businesses have similar mindsets in what defines their business success. With this foundation in place small businesses systematically build their business but the rate at which they are able to truly scale and achieve their value statements becomes dependent upon the absorption of IT. In fact, the role of IT has increased by an average of 38 percent between the two years of comparison. In today’s market, IT is generally delivered in the form of systems that improve sales process efficiency and visibility, collaboration, project management, analytics and social marketing systems that capitalize on connectedness within an economy that increasingly relies on person-to-person, cloud-enabled communications.
There is tremendous future interest within SMBs in cloud-based marketing systems, sales systems, and solutions supporting business operations. Availability of cloud-based business solutions will drive tremendous growth in automation across seven functions:
1/ Marketing solutions
2/ Sales systems
3/ Customer service solutions
4/ IT Operations solutions
5/ Solutions supporting business operations
6/ Solutions supporting financial operations
7/ Solutions supporting HR/talent management
And when we further consider that each solution area can (and often does) incorporate multiple applications, and that some cloud applications are outside of these seven areas, we will see that both the scope and depth of cloud workloads will increase to support small business value-statements.