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    #SMB #MIDMARKET #UPPER MID-MARKET #CHANNEL
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  • HYBRID WORK IS HERE TO STAY?

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    NOT SO FAST SAYS THE DATA
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    NEXT CHANNEL - THE FUTURE OF PARTNER ECOSYSTEM

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    2021 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges
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    Influence map & care-abouts
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    DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

    Delivering Connected Business
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  • SECURITY RESEARCH

    SECURITY RESEARCH

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    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption
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    ANALYTICS & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

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    2021 SMB & MIDMARKET PREDICTIONS

    Top 10 SMB & Midmarket Predictions for 2021
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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 Spotlight series - NetSuite, SAP, Big Data, Azure, AWS, SoftLayer

Techaisle routinely conducts depth interviews with actual SMB and Midmarket customers using technology to understand their business issues, challenges and lessons learned. For the first time, Techaisle is opting to publish select interviews (five in each report) under its SMB Spotlight Series reports - Insights from the Trenches of Implementers.

These reports are:

20 Questions with SMB NetSuite ERP Users
20 Questions with SMB SAP Business One ERP Users
20 Questions with Midmarket Big Data Users
20 Questions with SMB PaaS Users: SoftLayer, Azure, AWS

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SMB IT Solution Leadership Divide

Techaisle’s unique SMB research to understand the current state and implications of distributed IT influence and authority shows that today, the DMU (Decision Making Unit) is much bigger, much more diverse, much more difficult to inform, and can be much slower to take action. Business decision makers (BDMs) are an intrinsic force within DMUs in most SMB organizations, and are the primary decision makers in some high-growth areas. These BDMs have different objectives for technology, different perspectives on adoption drivers and impediments, and tend to be influenced by different information sources. The resulting diffusion in responsibility/authority and information channels has created an environment where buyers and sellers struggle to develop the cohesion needed to promote or embrace new IT/business capabilities within existing IT and business process structures.

The study shows that both ITDMs and BDMs play important roles in the (formal and shadow) acquisition of IT products and services. However, Techaisle’s research has found that the distinctions between these roles are not evenly applicable across all types of IT-enabled solutions: in some areas, the business will look to IT for leadership, and in others, it will take direction from BDMs.

Figure below illustrates the extent to which ITDMs and BDMs are seen as solution leaders within small and medium businesses, and across nine major solution areas. The solutions have been assigned to three groups: those on the left (virtualization, managed services and IaaS) are labeled “IT led,” and represent areas where IT is generally seen as leading corporate initiatives; they are focused on the core infrastructure used by IT to deliver corporate services to users. The ones at the right (collaboration, social media and analytics) are labelled “BDM led,” and are solutions in which BDMs provide most corporate leadership, and IT is cast very much in a supporting role. The solutions in the middle – Big Data, SaaS and mobility – have been labelled “IT/BDM collaborative.” These are solutions that respond to BDM needs, but where IT is important to supporting delivery capacity.

smb-solution-leadership-blog-techaisle


The positioning of these solutions is important to IT vendor sales and marketing strategies. Solutions in the “IT led” category need to have strong IT-focused positioning, with detailed information on product attributes; this material should be supported with a second layer of collateral containing information on the business case for the solutions, and aimed at BDMs.

Solutions in the “BDM led” category require very different positioning: here, vendors need to make a strong case for the business benefits and relevance of the solution and orient these messages towards BDMs, supporting this campaign with accompanying technical information designed to provide clear deployment and integration guidance to ITDMs.

The “IT/BDM collaborative” category is the trickiest to address. It requires deep information on business benefits and the process steps required to capture those benefits targeted at BDMs, and deep information on how to assemble, deploy, integrate and support/optimize these solutions targeted at ITDMs – and an understanding of how to position and convey the messages to each audience.

During the survey, Techaisle explored one other solution issue that is important to understanding the different perspectives of ITDMs and BDMs. Each respondent was asked to categorize the nine solution areas as having one of two primary impacts: driving growth or containing costs/”increasing the bottom line.”

The comparison of small and mid-sized ITDM and BDM perspectives provides an instructive view of the differences between the two communities. Looking first at the small business results the survey finds that in six of eight areas (IaaS and SaaS combined into a single “cloud” category), BDMs are more likely to view a solution as contributing to growth, and ITDMs are more likely to view a solution as helping to control costs; this may reflect a fundamental difference in how each group approaches its business objectives. In the mid-market findings study reveals that the perceptions of value of ITDMs and BDMs are very closely aligned in mobility, virtualization, Big Data and managed services. ITDMs are more likely to believe that cloud will drive growth than their BDM peers, while BDMs are much stronger believers in the growth contributions of the three IT-led solution areas (collaboration, social media and business intelligence/analytics).

About the Study: 360 on SMB & Mid-Market IT Decision Making Authority - BDM vs. ITDM

The study covers:

    • Stakeholders and their roles in end-to-end IT solution adoption

 

    • ITDM vs. BDM : Balance of Authority (Needs, Budget, Purchasing)

 

    • ITDM & BDM: Locus of Leadership in driving different types of IT Solution Adoption

 

    • ITDM & BDM: Leadership roles in securing Cloud, Mobility

 

    • ITDM vs. BDM: Success Attributes and Benefits of Cloud & Mobility Solutions

 

    • SMB & Mid-Market Businesses: Shadow IT Spending

 

    • Business Impact of BDM vs. ITDM perspectives and expectations with respect to IT Solutions

 

    • ITDM vs. BDM: Differences in Business Issues, IT Challenges, IT Priorities

 

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2014 Top 10 SMB & Mid-Market IT Priorities, IT Challenges, Business Issues

Techaisle's just completed survey of SMBs and Mid-market companies reveals the following Top 10 IT Priorities, IT Challenges and Business Issues that the IT and Business Decision makers are facing in 2014.

2014-top10-smb-it-priorities-business-issues-techaisle-infographics       2014-top10-mid-market-it-priorities-business-issues-techaisle-infographics

 

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Lessons from a Business Focused CIO of an SMB

Jagdeep RandawaI first met Jag Randhawa at Dell World. It was a meeting organized by Dell Analyst Relations to showcase Dell’s Cloud Business Applications. Unbeknownst to Dell Analyst Relations, we hardly discussed Dell. What struck me immediately was his smiling demeanor and an earnest desire to be a champion of business innovation and his views on what IT could do to spur growth through employee involvement and implementing new technology ideas.

We re-connected, ten months later at his office.

Jag Randhawa is the VP of IT at CAMICO Mutual Insurance Company, an SMB with slightly less than 100 employees. And he is the quintessential CIO who loves his job, his company and his fellow colleagues. He also showers high praise on Dell’s customer intimacy, likes VMware’s virtualization solutions and embraces Open source.

Specifically, he uses Dell for Network, Switches, PCs, Servers, Storage and is purchasing Microsoft Software. From VMWare, he uses their server virtualization technologies and software like VMotion and inventory management software for managing all the VM servers.

Cloud Focus

His is a Dell shop, to the extent that he has replaced all existing storage and security solutions with those from Dell. He and his IT team of twelve do not work with any channel partners. His philosophy – whichever applications that can be pushed to the cloud without compromising security of his customer data, just do it. And he has done it; CAMICO is using 12 cloud applications which are:

    1. SalesForce.com – Sales Management

 

    1. SilverPop – Marketing Automation

 

    1. Nexure – Agency Management Solution

 

    1. Acuity – Legal Partners Expense Management

 

    1. DocuSign – Electronic Signature

 

    1. LearnLive – Webinar Broadcasting and Training

 

    1. ADP/HCM – Payroll and Human Capital Management

 

    1. Skype – IM and Video

 

    1. Paypal and Total Biller Solution – Credit Card Payment Gateways

 

    1. Concur - Travel Expense Management

 

    1. RingCentral – Telephony

 

    1. MailRoute – Email Spam Filter



Business Perspective Focus

To increase employee engagement and help grow the business, he created a Bottom-up Innovation Program at CAMICO, in which employees submit ideas to grow the top-line, increase operational efficiencies, improve customer service, enhance business processes, and reduce cost. This program has generated many valuable ideas, and as a result he is embarking on two of his most ambitious business focused IT projects.

    1. Using Open Source for eCommerce solutions

 

    1. Developing a Big Data Proof of Concept



Both of the projects are still in infancy stage and they are both being developed using Open Source. To explain further on the eCommerce solution initiative, he says, “We currently host our website and members-only extranet using Oracle Portal, and now we are planning to use Drupal for our website and another open source software for extranet, which is yet to be determined. Our website and extranet also have eCommerce capabilities embedded in it, so we will be porting our eCommerce into this new Open Source portal”.

He is most excited about the big data project which is his initiative to provide actionable insights and perspectives for the business management at CAMICO. When I asked him about the key objective of working on a big data project, he said, “We are experimenting with Big Data using many of the Open Source software to analyze and find correlations among loss trends. The first objective is to find loss causes in our current data and subsequently use these findings to better underwrite future risks.”

Employee Engagement Focus

As mentioned earlier, The Bottom-up Innovation Program was his brain child. The program encourages all employees to submit ideas that could add value to customers or the business. Employees observe their environment, listen to customers, and bring their outside experiences as consumers to generate ideas that could benefit the company or customers. These ideas are validated, refined and prioritized by a committee of fellow employees. For every accepted and implemented idea, employees are recognized for their contributions through intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. This program makes employees more an integral part of the company, thereby increasing employee engagement and retention. The program has become such a success that he is invited to speak at several industry events for the benefit of other organizations. He not only speaks about the concept but also explains the implementation mechanics and expected outcomes of the program.

Overcoming business challenges

Similar to most other CIOs, he and his team have a long list of IT initiatives but the top four initiatives for 2014 and beyond are:

    1. Replace Website, Members-Only and eCommerce platform

 

    1. Use Big Data for analyzing current and future risks

 

    1. Move more infrastructure solutions into the cloud

 

    1. Build targeted Mobile solutions



But there are enough challenges that his team (he detests the word “staff”) has to overcome. As per Jag, the biggest challenge for any IT department is money and talent. He elaborates on his statement, “There is never enough money to do everything we want to do. However in my view, if there is a business justification for an expense, money is never an issue. The definition of business justification is, for every dollar spent how much money the new solution is going to make or save? There are times when you cannot find direct or immediate benefits, so you have to find creative ways to show value and sell new ideas. Cloud applications make it easier to try new solutions without heavy upfront commitment”. To qualify, he quickly states that the big data project was unscripted and not budgeted but he was able to create a business value which catapulted it to be among the top four IT initiatives.

Business Focused CIO

He is very clear in his mind that there has never been a better time to be a CIO. And he has a message for other IT leaders, “Technology has become an integral part of the business. IT leaders should always be thinking of how they can leverage technology to create competitive advantage, grow the business and create operational efficiencies.” As if on cue, he recites what he practices:

    1. Partner with business peers. Look for ways to help them achieve their goals faster using technology.

 

    1. There is no IT project; every project is a business initiative. If you want funding for any initiative, figure out how it adds value to the business.

 

    1. Find partners who will help you showcase the value of technology.

 

    1. Above all, build credibility with your peers by providing excellent service.



Way to go.

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