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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.

Influencing the SMB non-IT C-level buyers requires careful marketing mix

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the number and types of information sources available to SMB IT and business decision makers. It is no longer the case that these ITDMs and BDMs can be moved predictably through a process that starts with an initial inquiry and progresses through education to qualification and to a sale. Instead, technology buyers are increasingly self-educated and make contact with a supplier, not with an initial inquiry, but with a fully-formed request.

Techaisle’s survey of 1120 US SMBs, 360 on Balance of Authority: decision cycle, shows that SMBs engage with IT supplier at 50% decision stage. In fact, worst still, the IT supplier’s and channel partner’s role begins in when price, deployment & support are the only points left to discuss.

Techaisle’s corresponding survey of 1246 US SMBs, Influencing the SMB buyers’ journey, shows that “Campaign marketing” has become a relic of an earlier age, replaced by a content marketing brew combining “thought leadership” (to engage new prospects) and ‘digital discovery’ (to ensure visibility for the thought leadership).

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Role of BDMs in SMB IT solution adoption

Typically, IT suppliers focus on product or service transactions – the point at which a buyer commits to a contract with a specific seller. IT vendor compensation plans are structured around the transaction, and lead funnels captured in CRM and marketing systems coalesce around this event. And because IT professionals are often engaged in signing contracts for IT products and services, vendor sales and marketing initiatives often key on the IT function.

From a buyer’s perspective, though, the solution adoption cycle is much longer, and commitment to a specific product or service is less important than establishing the business context that drives the need for investment, and the processes needed to ensure that the business obtains anticipated value from this investment. Before they commit to a contract, organizations need to identify the need for a new solution, align the need with strategic and operational plans, and identify and evaluate solution options. Once the product/service is acquired, the buyer’s process continues: the business still needs to deploy the new technology, train IT and business users on its features, evaluate the effectiveness of the solution in meeting current requirements, and optimize the solution over time to maximize returns.

Techaisle conducted a unique survey of SMB organizations. To understand the current state and implications of distributed IT influence and authority, Techaisle surveyed roughly equal numbers of business decision makers (BDMs) and IT decision makers (ITDMs) across seven employee size categories, and then analyzed results to create a unified view of the new decision authority realities.

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Techaisle study shows SMBs accelerating commitment to Cloud

In today’s SMB market, it is critical for vendors to build detailed understanding of the small and midmarket segments, and to align resources and strategies with requirements as SMBs move from initial experimentation with sophisticated solutions towards mass-market adoption.

In its latest study, Techaisle analyzes 1,116 survey responses to provide the insight needed to build and execute on cloud solution strategies for the small and midmarket customer segments. Techaisle’s deep understanding of SMB IT and business requirements enables vendors to understand the ‘why’ and ‘when’ of solution adoption, current and planned approaches to solution use, the benefits that drive user investments, and key issues in aligning with buyers and building and intercepting demand.

Highlights of findings presented in the report include:

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We are tech companies and tech means cloud which means new business models

We believe that we are all tech companies. Obviously companies like Dell with hardware or Microsoft with software or Cisco with networking products or IBM with services or Salesforce with cloud software or even Apple with consumer electronics are recognized as tech companies that are relevant to the businesses that operate around the world. But this is not the extent of the tech industry.

We may or may not recognize financial institutions as being technology companies but the financial institutions themselves recognize that technology shapes their competitive environment. A recent memo from a senior executive at one of those financial institutions identified not their traditional competitors but Apple Pay as a significant source of future competition.

Automotive industry companies like GM, Ford, and Mercedes are also technology companies. We all recognize Tesla as a technology company because in essence its product is technology with electronics and electric engines. In the 1970s, metal was the single highest value component of a vehicle. In the 80s and 90s, computer hardware became the most valuable component of a vehicle, and today software is the highest value component in a new vehicle. A new vehicle purchased today contains often as much as 100 million lines of software code. For comparison's sake, the Android operating system contains about 15 million lines and Facebook has about 62 million lines of code. So a late model car is equivalent from a coding perspective to Facebook plus Android plus Android again plus a little bit more Android.

The taxi industry, represented by cabs in New York City and Toronto and Mexico City and a tuk tuk from Thailand, has been greatly disrupted by Uber which owns no cars but provides ride services around the world.

This huge opportunity for the creation of new wealth by disrupting existing industries with technology is driving quite a lot of tech innovation throughout the economy. As analyst David Moschella observed in a post entitled 'Dual Disruptions', a firm can be seen by the technology industry either as a valued customer or potential lunch for this Uberfication style of disruption.

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