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    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption


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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.

Tavishi specializes in quantitative research focusing on Small and Medium (SMB) market segments and emerging technologies such as Mobility, Cloud Computing and the effect of Social Media on marketing strategies.

Tavishi Agrawal

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

Tavishi Agrawal

Tavishi Agrawal

SMBs would like to have Android Apps on Ultrabooks

A Techaisle survey of 810 SMBs in the US shows that SMBs would ideally like to see Android applications running on Ultrabooks. Nearly 60% of SMBs that use smartphones have Android based smartphones. On an average, a small business has three Android based smartphones and a mid-market business has 26 Android based smartphones. These SMBs have become used to Android apps and would desire to have the same type of capability within Ultrabook.

Tavishi Agrawal - Techaisle - Global SMB, Midmarket and Channel Partner Market Research Organization - Techaisle Blog SB-Android-Apps1  Tavishi Agrawal - Techaisle - Global SMB, Midmarket and Channel Partner Market Research Organization - Techaisle Blog MB-Android-Apps

Similar desire does not exist for iPhone apps because they do feel strongly that iPhone is a closed environment, whereas Android is open-sourced, hence, a higher likelihood of Android apps becoming available on a PC platform.

Anurag Agrawal



Tavishi Agrawal

Mobile Apps: Forget About Content. Context is King

As of March of this year, half of all US mobile phone subscribers had a Smartphone. This in my opinion is more than just a number. It is a tipping point for applications. It is safe to say that we are now in an app economy as far as mobile phones are concerned. But the number has significance beyond just being a tipping point because it is a tipping point for thinking about applications.

Tavishi Agrawal - Techaisle - Global SMB, Midmarket and Channel Partner Market Research Organization - Techaisle Blog SocMedicons-fb What do I mean by that? Applications designed for the desktop or enterprise environments typically exist in a sandbox. That sandbox can be as small as a user’s desk or the entire enterprise but nonetheless a sandbox. Their function and focus is to provide the tools needed to complete a task within the confines of that sandbox. But these apps for the most part ignore user contexts. For example, a CRM application typically does not take into consideration a user’s location nor does an app like MS Office (other than language localization). But mobile apps need to be different because mobile is different. A mobile phone is not just another device. It is a beacon in your pocket that is constantly aware of where you are, what’s around you. It is also aware of your preferences and social network and what transactions you prefer. And one more thing – mobile identifies the user uniquely, not just from a device standpoint but as an aggregate of all the factors mentioned above. So it follows then that Context must define Content. But what are these contexts that app developers should consider? There are fundamentally three.

    • Location


    • Contacts/social network


    • Calendar/time

Not all apps can take advantage of all three but should take advantage of at least one. It is hard to say that one of the above mentioned contexts is more powerful or more important than the others. Each can be powerful depending upon the app or the content. For example, ecommerce applications benefit significantly from taking advantage of location while for a CRM app, contacts and calendar are more critical than other contexts.

Context = Creative Destruction

The use of contexts in app development is not just about driving new user experience and value for users; it is about driving new business models as well. The use of contexts increases the app’s value to the point where in many instances a new revenue model can be implemented. For example, wireless phone companies that by design are able to capture user locations can monetize this “data” in a variety of ways, advertising being one of them. Similarly apps that used to be sold on a per license basis can shift their revenue models to leveraging contextual data as opposed to per user charges. In that respect, context is not only valuable, it is disruptive. The first wave of context aware apps we see have typically been those that would anyway have been free - Apps such as Instagram, Pinterest and Zoomingo (local shopping application).

Increasingly, I predict that we will see whole industries that shift their business models to take advantage of contexts. Newspapers and media are a prime example. While many newspapers are experimenting with paywalls, I believe that a larger opportunity exists for them to exploit user contexts. News publishing today uses what could be termed as an “in-out” model, that is publishers and editors decide what content should be created, publish it and hope that readers will find it interesting. It is the traditional content first driven approach. But what is relevant to me as a reader depends upon my current context. And what is relevant for me today may not be relevant tomorrow. It calls for a more dynamic approach to presenting content, where content to be presented is selected based on a combination of contexts. In other words, an “out-in” model. Doing so improves their ability to deliver advertising thereby potentially increasing revenue.

The same is true for retail. Most mobile retail websites are mere reproductions of online properties but should they be? Online retail websites suffer from the same contextual ignorance as other apps. For example, a mobile retail app would be much more powerful if it could detect a person’s physical proximity to a store. Imagine how small business retailers could benefit from such capabilities. Think about applications like Endomondo that track your physical fitness activities. Well over 5 million users have downloaded and use Endomondo. Consider how useful that data would be to an outfit like REI for targeting and creating customized offers. Here’s another example and a personal one. I am an avid photographer, but not a very good one. I try to learn about photography but that typically happens before or after I am out taking photographs. But the most appropriate context for me to quickly learn tips is when I am taking photographs. Cameras already track locations and embed them in pictures. They already sense light conditions. But this data is not used to educate the photographer! Could it be used to provide tips at the time the photo was being taken? Or could suggestions be given as to how to improve the photograph with examples of the best possible settings? Would it make amateurs like me to more likely to buy a particular camera brand? Would it facilitate brand loyalty? I believe the answers to all of the above are a resounding yes!

Context = Engagement

Indeed, most websites retail or not suffer from the same issue. Even corporate, customer facing websites are mere one-way information dispensing media rather than a context aware, interactive medium that facilitates two way engagements. In fact the very term “engagement” needs to be redefined in the mobile age.  Engagement was largely defined in terms of giving users the content they want/need. But in the mobile age, I believe that engagement should be about the interaction users want and need. It follows then that if context defines interaction then adding contexts fuels a more powerful engagement that can impact costs and revenue.

In Conclusion

Successful mobile applications need to score high on relevance. Relevance is a function that takes into consideration not just content but also all the factors that surround and influence the appeal of that content. This means that app developers have to re-think their applications for the mobile age. And not just re-think but they have to get mobile DNA into the entire organization.


Tavishi Agrawal

Mobile and Touch: A new interaction formula takes hold

Every decade or so, the tech industry experiences a tectonic shift. Over the last 40 years, we have seen changes in hardware, software, communications, networking, development tools, languages and platforms. Each has been significant in its own right. Some are incremental and though touted as game changers, they impact a narrow slice of technology users. It is arguable whether the shift to mobile is the most important of all but it has been as impactful as the arrival of the PC, if not more because of the pace at which the change has occurred.

Most readers of this blog are well aware that the most impactful changes in technology are those that ultimately change user behavior and disrupt how people interact with information that affects their daily personal and professional lives. A technology such as that changes the entire eco-system around it. When Apple introduced the world to GUIs and the mouse followed subsequently by Microsoft, it broadened the market for PCs and changed how people interacted with information. The combination of mobile and touch
technologies is having the same impact.

Take Instagram for instance. I must admit that I never gave Instagram a fighting chance of success. When I first heard of it I thought what possessed these guys to build a photo sharing app given the presence of huge success of Flickr and Picasa – both properties of
large companies. Similarly, Pinterest is but a feature of Facebook, right? Wrong! And I am glad to have been proven wrong. These and other apps prove a simple reality – Mobile IS different. What these and other success stories prove that it is possible to reinvent existing applications and indeed markets in an increasingly mobile centric world.

Emerging Mobile Interaction Formula
When one analyzes the characteristics of these apps a few things become evident.

    1. Goal completion – Successful mobile apps must be responsive and allow users to complete the task quickly and with the least amount of friction. This seems elementary but is critical in mobile scenarios.


    1. Context – Apps must be contextually aware and on the flip side make easily make evident to the user what the context is. Again, elementary but of heightened importance when thinking mobile apps.


    1. Relevance – Limitation of screen size means that developers must be clever and super sensitive to how an app communicates relevance. There is no room to explain what an app does or is supposed to do, no room to guide the user in a systematic manner.


    1. Entertainment – Even productivity apps must provide some form of entertainment even if it takes the form of simply taking engagement to a new level. Immersive games do this as a matter of necessity but so do apps like Path and Evernote.


    1. Communication – Communication is central to all successful mobile apps. People don’t use mobile devices in a vacuum. While apps like Path present a simple elegant UI, its central value lies in being able to share one’s life with others. Regardless of the genre an app might fall into, communication has to be a central tenet of the app whether it is one-to-one or via social networks.

Touch technology is an important component of this and also presents some challenges. It has its advantages but also has limitations. It allows for a more natural interaction with information but for that to happen applications must be redesigned and rethought impacting even the most basic applications used every day.

    • What does a spreadsheet optimized for mobile platforms look like?


    • Does it (should it) even look like a spreadsheet?


    • What about graphics applications?


    • What is the best way to create a presentation on a touch optimized mobile platform?

Historically these apps have been designed and optimized for specific operating systems and devices. Compared to successful mobile apps they take on the status of silos, operated by individuals and content created within these apps is shared in the most rudimentary ways (think email). Touch interfaces aren’t just a way to replace mouse clicks and apps that do just that are foregoing the opportunity to drive new value for their users. For example, take a look at the following concept emerging out of MIT’s Fluid Interfaces lab.

This is Swÿp and this is how MIT describes it.

Tavishi Agrawal - Techaisle - Global SMB, Midmarket and Channel Partner Market Research Organization - Techaisle Blog swyp-300x150

With Swÿp you can transfer any file from any app to any app on any device: simply with a swipe of a finger. Swÿp is a framework facilitating cross-app, cross-device data exchange using physical "swipe" gestures. The framework allows any number of touch-sensing and collocated devices to establish file-exchange and communications with no pairing other than a physical gesture. With this inherent physical paradigm, users can immediately grasp the concepts behind device-to-device communications. The prototype application “Postcards” explore touch-enabled mobile devices connected to the LuminAR augmented surface interface. Postcards allows users to collaborate and create a digital postcards using Swÿp interactions. Swÿp enabled interfaces can support new generation of interactive workspaces possible by allowing pair-free gesture-based communications to and from
collocated devices. (Source: http://fluid.media.mit.edu/people/natan/current/swyp.html)

Another interesting concept is “Sparsh” (means “to touch” in Sanskrit).

Tavishi Agrawal - Techaisle - Global SMB, Midmarket and Channel Partner Market Research Organization - Techaisle Blog sparsh-300x150

'SPARSH' lets one conceptually transfer media from a digital device to one’s body and pass it to another digital device by simple touch gestures. The digital world -- laptop, TV, smart phone, e-book reader and all are now relying upon the cloud, the cloud of information. SPARSH explores a novel interaction method to seamlessly transfer something between these devices in a real fun way using the underlying cloud. Here it goes. Touch whatever you want to copy. Now it is saved conceptually in you. Next, touch the device you want to paste/pass the saved content. SPARSH uses touch based interactions as just indication for what to copy, from where and where to pass it. Technically, the actual magic (transfer of media) happens on the cloud.
(Source: http://fluid.media.mit.edu/people/pranav/current/sparsh.html)

What this means for businesses – Embrace “Mobile First” Approach

Businesses Should Embrace "Mobile First" Approach
IT departments are already dealing with an onslaught of devices that their constituency is asking them to support. The so called BYOD (Bring Your Own devices) trend has stressed IT managers and many resist the trend citing security concerns. But any platform shift causes some pain for some amount of time. Progressive IT managers should look at this as an opportunity to add new and more value to employees. The shift to mobile and touch platforms will eventually force IT departments to embrace a “Mobile First” approach to IT strategy and the sooner IT managers do it the better because ultimately, the growth in mobile isn’t about devices or software or networks. Those will continue to evolve. It is about how we interact with information in a way that enriches our individual experiences and productivity.


Research You Can Rely On | Analysis You Can Act Upon

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