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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.

SMB and Midmarket File Sharing & Collaboration Adoption to Grow by 52 percent

Techaisle’s study on SMB Collaboration Solutions Adoption Trends shows that for 59 percent of US small businesses and 93 percent of US midmarket businesses, collaboration is among the Top 5 IT priorities for investments. In Asia/Pacific, 63 percent of SMBs are turning towards it as a business growth driver and in Western Europe, 68 percent of SMBs are finding that collaboration drives better teamwork and customer responsiveness.

Overall 38 percent of US SMBs are currently using one or more collaboration solutions and another 20 percent are planning to use one within the next year, a growth of 52 percent. Overwhelmingly, SMB customers view online file sharing as the most important aspect of a collaboration solution as 64 percent of SMBs using collaboration are currently using online file sharing (24 percent of all US SMBs) and another 32 percent are planning to use it within the next one year.

The survey data also shows that the next stage in the SMB collaboration adoption is their need for online interaction, that is, simultaneously share and edits files from PCs and mobile devices, mobile video collaboration, integration with social networks, and richer media escalations, such as using chat, text, voice, video at the same time.

As per the study, key business drivers for SMB collaboration adoption are also changing. While currently there is a strong desire to build robust content repositories, the next wave of SMB collaboration adopters are emphasizing speed of innovation, demands for improved productivity, and imperatives for faster time to market.

In terms of brand solution adoption, the SMB market is quite fragmented with Google, Microsoft, and Cisco leading, but there are many other smaller collaboration solution brands that are being used extensively by SMBs. Further analysis of data also underscores the importance and use of collaborative capabilities within SaaS applications such as CRM, ERP, accounting, project management, HR management, business intelligence and content publishing.

With respect to file sharing, Dropbox has had a very strong impact on the SMB collaboration solutions market. By enabling mobile users to share files freely, they at once underscored the central importance of mobility, enabled individual users to be drivers of corporate collaboration activity, and proved the centricity of file-first rather than person-first collaboration models.

Box (another important vendor in the space), on the other hand has gone on record saying that SMBs are not its target market segment. There is a market opportunity for traditional backup and file-sharing IT companies such as Hightail, Carbonite, Egnyte as well as those delivering mobile workspaces such as Citrix and managed services platform providers such as Continuum and security IT vendors such as Trend Micro. However, the reach for each of these will be limited to the reach of their respective SMB focused channel partners.

Techaisle believes that there are additional file-centric developments that will further shape the nature of SMB file sharing solutions in the years to come. Today, most files are intrinsically connected to the applications that created them. If cloud and mobility are the key determinants of IT delivery, then there would be a need for the decoupling of data from applications. Application-independent data wrapped in rich metadata would allow new cloud-based applications (potentially based on BI platforms) to combine existing data to meet new business requirements. In addition, freed of originating applications, it is also likely that data could be optimally formatted for a wide range of displays: large screen PCs, smaller screen smartphones and tablets, and new display types ranging from signage to digital paper to wearable heads-up displays.

For more details on the report, click SMB and Midmarket Collaboration Adoption Trends

 

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SMB Content Management & Collaboration Solutions Adoption: Seven Key Trends

 

    1. Collaboration is a critical solution priority. In a list of ten solutions ranked by SMB use and planned use, “content management & collaboration solutions” is positioned as the fifth highest-ranked solution. However, the four solutions that are more highly ranked – social media, mobility, BI, and cloud – all deliver, and are expected to deliver, collaboration-related benefits. Viewed not just as a solution category but as an organizational capability, it is clear that collaboration is pervasive and critical to SMB IT buyers. This is reflected in data demonstrating that collaboration (and cloud, social media and mobility) is seen as contributing to business growth, and not strictly to cost savings. Larger SMBs are explicit in recognizing this imperative: within mid-market (100-999 employees) businesses, content management & collaboration is ranked as the second most important IT priority.

 

    1. Content Management & Collaboration systems are in broad use. Collaboration has traditionally been seen as a mid/large business solution, but broad market trends, including the enormous reliance on mobility, the trend towards flexible partnerships between SMBs and between SMBs and corporate clients, and the general trend of including customers within the framework of collaboration solutions have all contributed to much broader demand for collaboration solutions.

 

    1. Content Management & Collaboration solutions are file-first, not person-first. Collaboration is often seen as enabling human-to-human connections, but Techaisle’s SMB survey data shows that SMB users consider content management & collaboration around files – such as that offered by Dropbox or Box – to be the most important aspect of a collaboration solution. In today’s market, SMB content management and collaboration is a three step process. The central SMB buyer requirement for a content management & collaboration solution is the ability to share files from desktop or mobile devices, the second is to enable online interaction, and the third is to provide richer media and media escalation for person-to-person communications.

 

    1. There is a strong connection between cloud, mobility and collaboration. Mobility, cloud and collaboration are all important trends in today’s IT market, and Techaisle SMB survey data indicates that they are tightly interconnected. Mobility is a key driver of collaboration demand, with 300 million WW SMB mobile workers (42 percent of workforce) looking for framework technologies enabling them to connect with suppliers, customers and each other. At the same time, collaboration is seen as a key attribute of successful cloud solutions, with more than one-third of US SMBs citing “the ability to provide or support collaboration” as a key success factor in cloud solutions.

 

    1. Key business drivers for content management & collaboration solution adoption are changing. Both small and mid-sized firms have viewed creation of a central repository of information as the most important business driver for content management & collaboration investments, and both groups report that a need to build synergy across geographically-dispersed team members and a need to respond to leadership mandates are also key business drivers for content & collaboration solution adoption. However, these drivers are changing. New SMB buyers are still focused on creating central information repositories, but are more likely than existing solution users to emphasize speed of innovation and improving the ability to schedule meetings (in mid-sized firms) and the need to speed decision making and improve teamwork (in small businesses).

 

    1. SMB BDMs are the key champions for content management & collaboration solutions. Techaisle research looked at the issue of internal leadership for content management & collaboration adoption from two perspectives. In both cases, BDMs, and not IT, emerged as the key force driving decisions to deploy collaboration solutions. Techaisle believes that in response, collaboration vendors need to position their wares as business solutions and not as technology systems.

 

    1. Key success metrics for collaboration systems center on speed of response to customers/prospects and business decision timeliness and accuracy. Survey results show that both small and mid-sized businesses are most likely to assess the success of content management & collaboration solution initiatives in terms of improved speed of response to customers and prospects. They are also likely to consider timeliness and accuracy of business decisions as key success indicators. Techaisle urges suppliers to create marketing messages that emphasize, in clear and measurable terms, how investment in a solution will improve the timeliness of responses to customers and prospects, and to provide insight into how these solutions also enhance internal decision processes.



 

 

 

Table of Contents of the report is here: 360 on SMB & Mid-Market Content Management & Collaboration Solutions Adoption Trends Study

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Vidtel: A cloud-based Video Conferencing service for SMBs for any-to-any connections

We all know that video conferencing adoption is on the rise among SMBs. Collaboration technologies such as Video and Web Conferencing will increasingly be important to SMBs to satisfy their priority to make employees more productive. While these solutions have been around for a long time we believe that broad adoption among SMBs is upon us as evidenced by the priority assigned to such technologies versus the current level of penetration. As per Techaisle’s research data, currently in the US there are nearly 75,000 SMBs that use video conferencing and 790,000 that use web conferencing.

There are obviously many solutions that SMBs can take advantage of ranging from hosted to onsite solutions. Key players such as Microsoft (Live Meeting/Lync), Citrix (GoToMeeting) and Cisco (Webex) have great brand and mind share in the SMB space. However, there comes a time in the life of an SMB, depending upon its vertical or the role of the user, when high-quality, easy-to-use, any-to-any video connections’ based video conferencing becomes too important to ignore. This is where Vidtel steps in.

Vidtel is a cloud-based video conferencing service for any-to-any video connections. Its MeetMe offering allows multiple conferencing participants incredible interoperability, that is to say, it allows for users to seamlessly invoke a video conference, connecting video phones, PCs, tablets, room systems, smartphones and devices using SIP, H.323, Skype or GoogleTalk.

Vidtel is a small but growing organization founded by dynamic entrepreneurs who are focused on bringing affordable high-quality cloud-based video conferencing solutions to SMBs. To that extent, Vidtel has also recently partnered with Vu TelePresence that allows both Vidtel and Vu to gain from each other. Vu is able to bring MeetMe capabilities to its customer base and Vidtel stands to gain from Vu’s already established market presence.

We tried Vidtel’s MeetMe service. It seemed quite simple to initiate and conduct a video conference. To initiate a meeting, a Vidtel SMB customer with a MeetMe account simply provides the meeting room dial-in information to other participants, as one would with an audio conferencing bridge and set up a meeting time. For example, if the meeting were in room 2002, one Skype user would be asked to add Vidtel.2002.1 and the other Vidtel.2002.2 to his/her Skype contacts and dial that contact from either a tablet, mobile or PC/Mac. SIP users would dial This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and H.323 participants would dial 65.50.196.118 then 2002#. Users can even add security PINs.

A question that often arises is, what about support for SMBs? Vidtel provides level 1-4 support via video/phone/email for SMBs directly and levels 2-4 for resellers and wholesale providers who own the SMB customer relationship.

Vidtel offers a tiered pricing structure, from a low of US$199/month to US$599/month, depending upon the number of participants, standard or high-definition video.

SMBs who are seriously debating about using multi-point, any-to-any, high-definition video conferencing capabilities should check out Vidtel.

Anurag Agrawal
Techaisle

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The Power of Value Based Communities

There's been a lot of talk and blogging about communities being central to people on the web. The web, pundits say is changing from one of passive consumption to a participatory (I hate the word "interactive") experience. A lot of web x.0 sites such as Diggit, MySpace, facebook are exactly about that. Despite the talk and clear evidence marketing departments are mired in traditional approaches that do not directly address the power of Value Based Communities. Lets just call them VBCs for simplicity. I believe that these marketers ignore communities at their own risk. So what are VBCs and why are they important? Its easy to define a VBC - a community that comes together as a result of shared beliefs. Those beliefs could range from an interest in saving the environment, a love for dogs (or other animals), a passion for astronomy and so forth. Communities have existed throughout evolution. The first community was drawn together with a common belief in survival resulting in early instances of prehistoric man hunting in groups and forming families. Communities then are the basis of existence! indeed great changes have come about as a result of communities being created along shared values - The creation of America being a prime example. But enough about history. What about today? What role do communities play and why are they ever more relevant? One has only to witness the current election where Obama's message of "Change" is creating a voter community sharing a common belief and value that change is essential in government (Politicians in my view have been consummate marketers to creating and pandering to communities). It is amazing then that so few marketing efforts focus on understanding and mining the power of communities engaging instead in traditional marketing efforts. Market research in particular tends to fall short in this respect. Here are some reasons why marketers should actively focus on VBCs

1. Shared values = MOTIVATION: Every marketer seeks to understand what motivates a customer. Values are the strongest form of motivation that spurs action

2. Community = ACTION: A community comes together for the purpose of taking action, driven by a set of values. All communities without exception can clearly identify their purpose and values. Conversely, communities that cannot do so eventually fracture and fade away or give rise to new communities

3. Community = VALUED PEER INFLUENCES: A community's members are highly instrumental in impacting each others choices about a variety of things. The affinity brought about by shared values often leads to valuing a peer's recommendation and eventual purchase

As stated earlier, current marketing approaches often ignore these realities, in most cases either totally ignoring their existence or ignoring the values that created the community in the first place. Traditional marketing tactics place emphasis on a standard criteria such as customer's location, demographics, purchase preferences, race, age, education etc. - in other words, marketers understand the "what" and the "how" but rarely do they venture into understanding the "why" from a values perspective. And if at all they do, there is a broad generalization that hides critical differences among individuals. Among voters, for example, labels such as Republican or Democrat are supposed to indicate shared beliefs but the truth is that such generalizations mask shifts in values occurring within each party. Each party now has sub-groups such as Liberal Republicans and Conservative Democrats. Consumer group descriptions such as GenX, GenY also mask a multitude of values. I will stop here now and continue on this topic over the next few days. In the mean time, I look forward to your thoughts, comments and opinions in the coming days.....

Abhijeet Rane (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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