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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.

Digital transformation and customer intimacy in modern midmarket – 3rd pillar of DX

A Techaisle survey of nearly 900 midmarket firms in the US found that 41% of midmarket firms believe digital technologies impact every aspect of the business and are a core part of organizational strategy and more than one-third of midmarket businesses – 34% - believe that digital transformation is a key to customer intimacy. Executives are surrounded by examples of organizations that are using data – drawn from integrated internal systems, or from social media, or from far-flung sensors, or from third party services, or from a mix of all of these sources – to improve the key operating parameters of their businesses. Midmarket firms anticipate 21% improvement in upsell/cross-sell, 20% improvement in brand image and 19% improvement in customer satisfaction as outcomes of a successful DX strategy.

DX-enabled organizations generate more revenue from cross-sell/upsell; they have greater customer loyalty; they are able to open new markets and introduce new products and services faster and with better payback periods. And they do this through customer intimacy – by better understanding what their clients want and need, and by being agile in responding to these wants and needs. Techaisle research finds, in fact, that performance metrics that are tied to customer intimacy – improved upsell/cross-sell of products, improved brand image, and better customer satisfaction and retention – are the areas expected to improve the most as a result of digital transformation in the organization.

The constraints
Building customer intimacy is a little bit like making Baked Alaska: the promise is delicious, but the method is mysterious. With Baked Alaska, it’s the notion that ice cream can emerge from an oven unmelted. With customer intimacy, it’s the mystery of how to successfully aggregate data and integrate it with customer-facing activities.

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SMB and Midmarket IT maturity segments – cloud adoption challenges

Techaisle’s SMB & Midmarket IT maturity segmentation reveals that 52% of midmarket firms and 16% of small businesses (down from 31% two years ago) belong to Advanced IT segment and 37% of midmarket firms (up from 14% two years ago) and 0% of small businesses are in the Enterprise IT segment.

IT products are often described as having ‘a market’ – but ‘the’ IT market is comprised of many segments, each of which has its own approach to IT adoption. Some industry sectors (e.g., aerospace) tend to move faster than others (e.g., retail) and different countries and regions invest in new technologies at different rates. Until they are supplanted by new solutions, mature IT products are acquired at about the same rate by all buyers. These technologies generate the majority of ‘run rate’ revenue in the IT industry. When IT industry growth opportunities are discussed, the focus often turns to earlier-stage technologies. Sellers of these technologies tend to focus on advanced segments (large accounts, particularly in leading-edge industries). SMBs are generally viewed as a secondary market.

Four IT Maturity Segments

However, the SMB market is not a monolith. Techaisle research has identified four attitudinal/behavioral segments that have different approaches to IT adoption. Suppliers who understand the scope and characteristics of these segments are able to expand their target markets and develop strategies geared to reaching high-potential SMB prospects. These suppliers ultimately have access to an expanded TAM, and have the insight needed to align marketing investments with priority customers.

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Techaisle Take – HPE vs Dell SMB IT solution stack

Comparing Dell and HPE offerings and ecosystems against the Techaisle SMB IT solution stack model

Techaisle’s latest report is designed to help SMB buyers and suppliers identify IT stack requirements, and to compare the offerings and ecosystems of the two current market leaders, Dell and HPE, against Techaisle’s definition of essential SMB & midmarket business technologies. The report is structured in three parts:

  • The IT stack: the report begins by outlining the technologies that SMBs require – and require integration across – in order to support current and emerging business requirements
  • Vendor comparison: an evaluation of Dell and HPE offerings, including core products, non-core products and partner-delivered capabilities, against the stack requirements
  • Evaluating stack suppliers: advice on how to use the stack comparison, and additional Techaisle research findings, to evaluate Dell and HPE strengths
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The twin ladder approach to delivering digital transformation for SMB and Midmarket firms

Techaisle's most recent survey of 1600 SMBs & Midmarket firms (defined as 1 employee to 1000 employees), found that only 18% do not have any form of digital transformation initiative. Which means that 82% of SMBs are already on their digital transformation journey. And interestingly, 42% are taking a holistic view of digital transformation. What it means is that these 42% believe the Internet and digital technologies impact every aspect of the business and must become a core part of organizational strategy. What is more encouraging is that SMBs believe that in the next 2 years, 32% of their business activities would be digitized and increase of 30% from 2 years ago. Globally SMBs are expected to spend US$250 billion on digital transformation in 2018.

Techaisle’s extensive research also identified that successful implementation requires a journey through digitization and digitalization, from substitution to augmentation to modification and redefinition, spanning all of the functions in an organization and all of the technology used to support its activities. Based on both quantitative survey and depth-discussions with SMB and midmarket businesses on the transformation journey Techaisle has developed the twin ladder view of digital transformation. Figure below presents a single-image depiction of the ‘twin ladders’ of digital transformation. The bottom set of steps is labelled “the technology ladder,” and stretches from the deployment of modern, flexible infrastructure to advanced IT-enabled capabilities. The technology ladder begins with the building blocks needed to establish infrastructure that is capable of supporting digital transformation. It includes mobility, virtualization, hyperconverged infrastructure & converged infrastructure and other technologies essential to provisioning advanced IT services. Businesses need to deploy and make use of the building blocks and platform technologies before they can launch initiatives that are truly transformative for their businesses and customers.

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