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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 digital transformation needs orchestration

“IT and cloud orchestration” reflects the reality of a multi-platform world in the era of digital transformation. Techaisle research shows that within the SMB & midmarket segment, orchestrated connected cloud and technology will be the focus of substantial new investment over the next few years. Connected cloud itself forms the basis for an Interwork platform for successful digital transformation and is crucial for competitiveness and growth.

  • Upper midmarket firms use an average of 2.5 of the four leading public cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM) – a true multi-cloud environment
  • For 25% of small businesses and 51% of midmarket firms, workloads and data migrate across cloud and/or on-premise platforms
  • 89% of midmarket firms state that orchestration tools are critical to their ability to deploy workloads on hybrid platforms
  • 46% of SMBs do not know which cloud services to use and in what order
  • 47% of SMB/midmarket-focused channel partners are offering orchestration but only 24% are delivering, but 55% are expecting substantial revenue increases in the next 1 year
  • Use of orchestration is poised for growth as 40% of midmarket firms and 15% of small businesses are implementing cloud connectivity

Using a large number of on-premise technology as well as cloud platforms is escalating complexity beyond reasonable manual management limits. In response to this conundrum, many SMBs & midmarket firms are turning to orchestration as a strategy for optimizing use of multiple platforms and multiple technologies (topic of another blog another time). But help and guidance are missing. Even Techaisle’s latest channel partner study shows that although 47% offer orchestration but only 24% are delivering, and that also partially. Their vendor partners are not helping because of intense focus on enterprise segment.

In the quest for digitalization and digital transformation there has been ad hoc adoption of technology – both cloud & on-premise - as responses to paint points within SMBs.

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Digital transformation challenging the SMB buyers journey

The first step in influencing the potential of a technology to impact business outcome is identifying the extent to which technology aligns with or supports executive ‘care-abouts’ of the SMB buyers. Technologies that connect directly to C-level objectives are most likely to obtain support. Techaisle survey data shows that digital transformation is very prominent in executive-oriented IT discussions but influencing the SMB & midmarket IT and non-IT buyer is no cakewalk. Consider these statistics from Techaisle surveys:

  • 72% of SMB IT purchases are triggered by an acute business pain point & number of pain points are increasing
  • 52% of SMBs are facing 5+ business challenges
  • SMB IT Purchase Decision Making Unit (DMU) has grown by 250% over the last decade
  • Average of 5.2 decision makers are involved in technology purchase decisions in midmarket firms & 2.1 in small businesses
  • 43% of IT buyers are millennials
  • SMBs have 7 distinct business processes
  • Channel partner is involved at only 50% decision making stage
  • 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before first meaningful contact with a potential supplier
  • 17% of SMBs use six or more information sources
  • Average channel partner sales cycle is 7.7 weeks

Where, when and who to influence is a key challenge, especially when digital transformation impacts more than one buyer segment and business process.

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Digital Transformation and the future of Reseller channel

The past 15 years have been tough for traditional resellers. Digital transformation will benefit the reseller channel. Today, the IT industry is abuzz with discussion of digital transformation. Unlike smartphones and cloud, however, DX may actually provide upside for traditional channel members. In this document, Techaisle, in its latest white paper argues in favor of the proposition “DX will deliver new opportunity for traditional VAR businesses”. VARs are best positioned to scale “the twin ladders” to deliver digital transformation technology building blocks and the Interwork platform helps the channel position digital transformation initiatives in successfully navigating through and across digital transformation delivery stages.

In many cases, channel organizations that describe digital transformation to prospective clients are really talking about digitization, or some combination of digitization and digitalization. This is particularly true of MSPs or cloud (SaaS, IaaS) suppliers who are positioning their infrastructure management offerings – which are, for the most part, vehicles for augmentation – as a means of achieving DX. However, in its transformational end stages, DX is defined not by supplier delivery but by customer processes and objectives.

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Techaisle midmarket study shows cloud maturity does not always equal high digitization

Techaisle’s US midmarket digital transformation trends study shows that maturity of cloud adoption does not equate to high digitization of the business. Study data shows that only half of the 47% of mature midmarket cloud adopters are holistic adopters of digitalization. It is true that these firms believe in cloud and its effect on digitization but they also believe that true digital transformation requires advanced adoption of multiple technology solutions. Data also shows that the midmarket firms that have a siloed strategy of digital transformation are intermediate adopters of cloud, mostly driven by non-IT business units which need cloud to further their business objectives.

However, it is also clear from data that the Holistic segment includes a disproportionate number of mature cloud adopters, and mature cloud adopters in turn are much more likely to be Holistic in their approach to digitalization than firms in the intermediate category. A smaller (7% of total) third group of midmarket businesses, ‘born in the cloud’ (i.e., have all IT resident in the cloud) largely echo the patterns of the mature cloud users.

From a digitalization product/service marketer’s perspective, this is an important finding: it shows that those who can identify mature cloud adopters are likely to find greater receptivity to their messages and offerings than those that engage equally with the similarly-populous group of intermediate (in terms of cloud adoption) midmarket businesses.

High adoption of diverse technology solutions determines digitalization success

Even considering planned adoption, Siloed midmarket digital segment is likely to remain far behind the Holistic midmarket digital segment. The Siloed segment even lags being in the technology areas which midmarket firms see having the most impact in their business for the next 5 years.

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