In general SMBs have experienced improved customer acquisition and retention after using cloud applications, however, SBs (1-99 employees) and MBs (100-999 employees) differ. Typically, SBs are more hard-pressed to acquire customers, a top business issue for them. With the adoption of cloud, 32 percent SBs say that they have seen improvement. MBs on the other hand, have better direct sales force for customer acquisition, but after equipping the sales force and marketing with cloud applications they have seen marked improvement in customer retention. Additionally, an important point to note is that 29 percent of SBs have reported improved group productivity and 34 percent improved employee satisfaction.
The survey also showed that B2C and B2B SMBs have had different experiences in customer acquisition and retention. Specifically, B2B SMBs have reported nearly twice as high improved experiences as B2C SMBs. Many B2C SMBs are using social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter and marketing automation solutions to build a set of followers to improve their customer retention and acquisition. On the other hand, comparatively higher percentage of B2B SMBs are using LinkedIn, Twitter and specialized platforms such as Chatter, Yammer and GageIn to track news and conversations with their customersaction.
CRM has become the central application and the core around which other features and functionality are deployed as required by an SMB organization, department within an SMB or an individual user within the SMB. CRM is that core cloud business application. After the SMB CRM base has been built (or simultaneously), the order of implementation depends on the SMB’s focus but is likely to be business intelligence, marketing automation, Financials, HR/Payroll, customer service for service companies, ERP, fulfillment (SCM) and industry vertical applications.
There are four key areas of SMB cloud usage and deployment. Each has got many sub-sets of applications. These four areas are:
- Infrastructure and Platforms (US$13.0 Billion SMB Opportunity by 2016)
- Communications and Collaboration (US$7.9 Billion SMB Opportunity by 2016)
- Business productivity & Applications (US$15.5 Billion SMB Opportunity by 2016)
- Industry specific applications ((US$2.7 Billion SMB Opportunity by 2016)
While there are many niche vendors addressing each niche area, the complexity grows manifold as businesses move from one application to another, from one device to multiple devices. As Cloud computing adoption among SMBs grows, the real issue of data integration continues to come into play and it will become imperative for each of the four areas to communicate with the other. And once that “integration enlightenment” happens SMBs will witness even higher improvements in productivity, satisfaction, acquisition and retention.