Having the right information in the right context in the right format at the right time is critical to making business decisions these days, and increasingly that means access through mobile devices – whether it is the roughly 30% of consumers who own tablets or those tens of millions who get information from a Smartphone. A recent Techaisle survey of over 600 channel partners uncovered several important similarities and differences between how SMB channels are approaching three of the most important trends in the market: Cloud-Computing, Mobility Solutions and Remote Managed Services. In this post we will offer a snapshot of some characteristics of Mobility in the SMB Channel.
From a demand perspective, 60% of partners reported having SMB customers request Mobility Services, with almost 80% of ISV customers topping the list. Not surprisingly, email – the killer app, is the most used and offered service with about 50%, followed by Payment Processing with over a quarter. As we have found in other surveys, the front-office, revenue-related applications of CRM, especially among ISVs, and SFA, especially among SPs and Social Media Marketing, especially among SPs, were all being adopted by almost a quarter of respondents. We expect a rapid uptake in 2013 in the area of Mobile Analytics, which is being embedded into many front office SaaS applications in the form of dashboards and self-configured KPI management with proactive communications, or from the several cloud-based pure-play BI vendors in the market. As mentioned following the recent Citrix announcements, we also believe the market is ripe for adoption of Cloud-based Productivity Suites, which will also drive adoption of mobility among SMBs.
In many areas of Cloud Computing and especially Remote Managed Services, the big inflection point in both adoption and average spending does not happen until the 100-249 employee segment, but not so with Mobility; approximately 60% of the demand comes from the 1-9 and 10-49 employee segments, with the increase in email (across the board) and Social Media Marketing and Mobile Advertising (ISVs, SPs) driving the trend.
There are differences in the approaches, needs and challenges between SMB channel types when offering Mobility Solutions to customers, typically falling into Cost and Complexity, Management and Employee, Network and Device and Security categories. In this example, we see some key differences between the VAR/SI and SP partners related to the provision of Mobility solutions. Poor Network Service is the biggest challenge for VAR/SI partners, followed by Insufficient Network Speeds, Lack of Integration/Compatibility, and Immature Platform Choices. Both were challenged equally by Slow Performance of Mobile Apps and Device Management issues. SPs biggest challenges relative to VAR/Sis included Lack of Applications Availability, followed by Poor Mobile Web browsers, and Network and Device Issues.
As the market matures, these challenges should dissipate with increased mobile responsiveness built into websites and applications, more affordable device and data plan pricing and wider adoption of smart mobile devices. For now, the perennial SMB issue of cost and complexity of new technology balanced against perceived and demonstrated return on investment remains the most important barrier for channels to overcome.