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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.

HPE is serious about addressing the technology needs of SMBs

In 2019, the phrase doubling down on SMB was mentioned several times, including the keynote address by Antonio Neri at HPE Discover. Fast forward to the present, HPE's SMB momentum is building. George Hope, a 22-year veteran with SMB channel experience, is the new worldwide channel chief. With more than a decade of SMB market understanding, Maciek Szczesniak is the new Vice President and General Manager SMB and Mid-Market. HPE's GreenLake, a flagship, "as-a-service" product, which offers a flexible alternative to traditional IT hardware consumption, is now available in a smaller starting capacity targeted at channel partners and their SMB and midmarket customers.

HPE is undoubtedly doubling down on the SMB segment. Last week HPE made several announcements:

- Smaller starting capacity for HPE GreenLake
- SMB FlexOffers program for SMB and midmarket customer
- Specialist support for HPE GreenLake and Storage portfolios

Smaller starting capacity for HPE GreenLake

HPE GreenLake packages now are available from as low as $70,000 with storage (HPE Nimble Storage) and compute (HPE ProLiant servers). The storage starting capacity is 15TB and compute at 4 servers. HPE will continue to offer a 17 percent reseller rebate to drive profitability with partners selling HPE GreenLake. In the coming months, HPE plans to expand to provide a lower starting capacity across the technology portfolio. The speed with which HPE is lowering the minimum threshold is commendable. In mid-2019, HPE had announced a $200,000 minimum targeted at midmarket customers, only a year ago.

The announcement is very significant in addressing the technology needs of SMBs and midsized businesses. Most SMB executives understand that technology plays a central role in their management processes. Many also realize that payback on any technology asset increases as one approaches full utilization and that economies of scale tend to benefit larger rather than smaller organizations. SMBs know that they cannot realistically target and reach optimal IT resource utilization. A small business has trouble consuming all of the new systems' capacity, meaning that they often pay for resources they are not using. Those that do get to full utilization have a different problem: systems that lack adequate storage, memory and compute capacity frequently crash. SMBs cannot rapidly deploy new servers, storage, and networking equipment. Even if they were, the SMB would know that it is paying some form of premium: an SMB will never get to the purchase volumes needed to warrant large scale discounts. Hence, HPE's GreenLake, with its consumption-based business model, is an excellent fit for SMB customers.

However, the awareness and advantages of a consumption-based technology acquisition model are limited and challenging within the SMB segment regardless of whether SMBs are the front-runners in cloud adoption. Techaisle data shows that as the complexity of technology increases over the next five years, most small and midmarket firms will not realize the return on investments for long periods or as their businesses scale. HPE and its partners are well-positioned in the market to gain from the massive shift to XaaS procurement models.

SMB FlexOffers program for SMB and midmarket customer

Channel partners are the primary conduit to HPE's SMB and midmarket success. Price-conscious SMBs are demanding agility from their channel partners in their digital transformation deployments of core infrastructure solutions. To meet the SMBs and the partners' needs, HPE debuted its FlexOffers program providing distribution and SMB-focused solution provider partners the ability to customize their built-to-order (BTO) products at bundled discount prices. Partners get the flexibility to select preferred options that, through dynamic attach-driven pricing, can help them access and ensure the best price. Besides, solution providers will drive quicker delivery times by leveraging distributor inventory, and distributors will benefit from an automated, simplified claiming process. In the initial phase, SMB FlexOffers include HPE ProLiant Servers and HPE Storage products. HPE FlexOffers is being offered through select distributors during the pilot starting in November 2020. Partners will leverage the iQuote partner portal that HPE has been refining for the last two years.

Specialist support for HPE GreenLake and Storage portfolios

However, selling "as-a-service" requires that channel partners invest in pre-sales activities. There will be a proverbial opening of floodgates of latent demand from channel partners with the new announcements. Recognizing the need, HPE is committed to providing specialist support for HPE GreenLake and dedicated pre-sales for the channel. HPE will also be providing training for partners to accelerate their HPE GreenLake knowledge and positioning. The additional support will be in the form of dedicated enablement initiatives, like workshops with experts, to help partners personalize their as-a-service journey.
HPE is serious about equipping its partners to participate in the "as-a-service" business model. It offers partners training on HPE GreenLake and an opportunity to self-assess partner "maturity" to shape their own consumption/aaS journey with HPE around their (and their customers') needs.

The shift to "as-a-service" has been in the making for a long time. In FY21, HPE plans to extend partner support and activation through unique and specific enablement initiatives piloted last year with a few partners, who also participated in HPE's "Consumption Advisory Council" meetings. An example is Advizex, an HPE Platinum partner for 35 years.

Not three years ago, the HPE Channel & Pointnext team started to help partners shift to consumption IT and HPE GreenLake to expand opportunities, accelerate digital transformation, and gain competitive advantage. HPE's team collaborated with Advizex on marketing initiatives, education, and dedicated workshops and enablement. This strategic effort allowed Advizex to assess their readiness to shift to consumption, identify the knowledge and actions needed, become proficient in selling HPE GreenLake and consumption IT ahead of the competition, and develop a strategic plan to drive consumption IT with HPE. Now, as HPE doubles down on HPE GreenLake specialist resources, it can extend this kind of support to all partners who decide to focus on HPE's consumption offering.

Solution providers and distributors will also have the opportunity to elevate their conversations and accelerate sales by working with HPE's "Storage Rangers" - outcome-based solution selling experts with a high degree of technical skills. These specialists will help partners enhance the request for quotation (RFQ) process to execute existing campaigns and initiatives.

Storage Rangers are funded heads (aka Champions, partner-badged) with a specific focus on storage. The geographies that have opted-in to the program have nominated a Program Lead (HPE-badged), and that is the go-to person if a partner wants to have a Ranger. HPE offers a specific training curriculum for Sales & Presales Rangers and local support to help them deliver on the request for quotation (RFQ) process and generate new business opportunities.

Each IT supplier is currently focusing on streamlining deal registration for its channel partners. Techaisle's latest global channel survey research of our 2400 partners shows that fees and activity-based incentives, solution development funds, and deal registration are significant enablement incentives for 40% to 50% of partners. Partners have an unmistakable idea of their criteria for partnerships - vendors that are easy to do business with, technical support, quality of partner programs, and those who offer end-to-end solutions that are easy to deploy, integrate are preferred. HPE is increasing its commitment to providing its partners with price and margin protection and new incentives as part of its deal registration program.

Final one-line Techaisle Take

Competition with Dell is on full display. There is no reason to ignore HPE as an IT supplier and a vendor partner for addressing the technology needs of the SMB and midmarket firms for better business outcomes.

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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.

Download the full white paper here

 

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WW SMB customer-facing cloud applications adoption driving digitalization

Customer intimacy matters to SMBs. It is also a challenge. As per Techaisle's study of N=5505 SMBs in the US, Europe, Asia/Pacific, and Latin America, 77% of SMBs say that their business success depends upon a strong relationship with their customers, providing goods and services highly customized to their needs, and being responsive to their needs. Three facts stand out – customer relationship, customized delivery, and responsiveness. And neither of the three can be achieved without the use of relevant technology.

Every SMBs' survival is dependent upon customers. At the start of the year, Techaisle had predicted that 2020 would see a ground-breaking year when customer intimacy (acquisition, retention, experience & satisfaction) will drive IT adoption and business process evolution. We had said that by the end of 2020, for 45% of SMBs, the need for customer intimacy will drive digital transformation, and 76% of new SaaS adoption will be customer-focused. As a result of the investments, 15% of small businesses and 24% of midmarket firms will have a top-notch customer-facing digital presence. Pandemic has surpassed the predictions.

Recent global SMB research from Techaisle shows that within US small businesses, customer-focused SaaS business application adoption is likely to increase by 49% in 2020, rising by another 33% in 2021. Similarly, within the US midmarket firms, the adoption is expected to reach 82% in 2020, with another 74% planning to add adjacent customer-focused applications in 2021. Europe SMB research shows similar trends. 58% of European small businesses are adopting customer-focused SaaS applications in 2020, which will increase to 77% in 2021.

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