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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.
Davis Blair

SMB IT Spend: Emerging Markets Push European Countries down the Rankings

Top 10 SMB IT Market Rankings by CountryIn the first part of a three-part series, this post examines the growth of BRIC SMB IT markets, and their ranking relative to other markets. Here we will discuss the Top 10 markets from an SMB IT Spending perspective, and while it is well known that emerging markets grow faster from a smaller base, the absolute rankings of large markets tend to be relatively stable except in the case of exceptional growth, making it an important milestone. This is the case for China, in this forecast as it replaces Germany in its’ longstanding position of the third largest SMB IT Market. Other changes in ranking are that Brazil replaces Italy, and India comes into the Top 10 by the end of the forecast period. Korea displaced Australia as #10 in 2011 and manages to stay within the group throughout the forecast. The primary reason for this displacement is similar to that of other economic segments: sheer volume increase based on population and higher GDP per capita.

According to this Forbes article, the equity value of the BRIC economy financial markets peaked at 18% of the global value in mid-2011, and grew four-fold in the previous ten years. As a general rule, technology adoption lags economic growth and depends on many factors. This accounts for the slower climb up the rankings when compared with the overall economy, and is exacerbated by the fact that SMB IT adoption radiates from Tier 1 Cities to Tiers 2 and 3 as infrastructure allows.

China and Germany SMB IT Market ComparisonEven so, we can see the fundamental differences in the market structures between Germany and China shown in this graph, despite the huge volume increase in China. Germany demonstrates a much more mature mix of IT products and services, weighted toward value-added segments of Software and Services, while the China market remains very hardware centric; almost half the opportunity is still hardware devices by the end of the forecast period. However, China is different than many other emerging markets because it is not only strategic as an end user market, it is also critical as a supplier to the world and to its’ own domestic market. The history of the IT market in Asia Pacific, especially since introduction of the standard PC architecture, has been a race between US brands and local manufacturers whose production is adopted in the domestic market through osmosis along with cultural and distribution advantages. In the case of China, this is more serious as it becomes an increasingly important global segment; on one hand there is a push to open the market while on the other US giants like Apple, IBM, Intel and Microsoft become more reliant on the Chinese Consumer and Enterprise IT markets.

There will be increasing international pressure to make sure there is a “level playing field” in China, as we have seen from initial forays like the Huawei controversy earlier this year. PC maker Lenovo is going very strong in the global market, having reached the #1 vendor in unit shipments worldwide in a relatively short period of time, and snatching three times more domestic market share than the nearest competitor. Lenovo and Huawei have also pushed Apple to sixth place in the Chinese mobile handset market, despite Apple manufacturing tens of millions of handsets and tablets in China. Welcome to the global economy.

Davis Blair

Global SMB IT Spending in 2016 - Infographic

How big is the SMB IT market opportunity? What is the potential market size of mobility, cloud, datacenter, PCs/Tablets? What is the growth in spend in regions? What are average the spends per business? What are the key business issues?

That is the topic of our Infographic. Click the image to download.

China - Techaisle - Global SMB, Midmarket and Channel Partner Market Research Organization - Techaisle Blog techaisle_2016_global_smb_spend_infographic-85x300 Global SMB IT Spend is poised to reach ~600 Billion dollar by 2016. Worldwide, there are still 26 million SMBs yet to buy a PC, 30 million SMBs do not have a server; some of these may directly move to cloud. They are already using internet to a very large extent. Granted that many of them are less than 20 employees but they are not going to be static. Approximately 560,000 new businesses were started each month in 2012. About 10,000 of small businesses become mid-market businesses each year.

North America and EMEA are infrastructure, software and services driven while Asia/Pacific is product driven. North America has the highest average IT spend per business spend while Asia/Pacific and Latin America the lowest. There is a vast difference between emerging market and mature market SMBs in terms of average spend per business. It is also useful to note that while Asia/Pacific has the highest number of SMB cloud users, average spend per user is less than 1/5th of SMB user in North America.

In terms of business issues, SMBs in the US are focused on collaboration and communications. The three business issues feeding into this focus are reducing operational costs, focusing on new markets and improving effectiveness of sales and marketing. On the other hand Western Europe SMBs are concerned about workforce efficiency with focus on costs was a key driver for SMBs in in that region, improving workforce productivity (getting more out of the workforce) and reducing operational costs. On the other hand Asia/Pacific SMBs want to grow faster than the market and are constantly worrying about market penetration. If they do not act now, they think that the opportunity will slip by.

Download the Infographic (click on image) to get a great snapshot of SMB opportunity including spend on PCs/Tablets, Mobility, Cloud, Data Center, Security.

Davis Blair

Apple Moves Some Manufacturing back to the US – Techaisle Take

In a very interesting move, Apple announced that they would invest in returning some production to the US. At first blush, this seems like a bold tactic  which will certainly improve Apple’s brand reputation in the wake of long-standing criticism for moving skilled manufacturing jobs to China, where worker pay and conditions are bad enough to drive some to suicide. And as the number one technology company in the world it is also heartening to see some jobs come back home, but there are a few caveats:

The Apple MacBook is the top of the line notebook with a premium price point, out of reach for most small businesses unless there is strong justification, such as for professional designers and developers who need to pay double that of a similarly equipped Wintel device to do their work effectively. That share of the market has always been small relative to Wintel machines, both desktop and notebook. Apple manufactured Macs in the US until the mid-nineties, after most competitors had moved production offshore. The caveats include 1) whether this experiment will grow to the more strategic iPhone and iPad product lines, and obviously, 2) whether Apple can turn a profit that makes the decision stick after the first $100M is spent.

Apple cites the inability to find the level of skills and manufacturing equipment in the US to be able to turn out production rapidly and with high quality. No doubt Foxxconn, Apple’s Chinese production partner, who already operates some plants in the US, will be looking to expand operations here. They had issues ramping up production to meet demand for the new iPhone and there were hiccups, followed by reports of Foxxconn negotiating multi-billion dollar deals in Brazil, to manufacture there. Regardless of how that materializes, today’s announcement will dampen some criticism that would accompany the final press releases from Sao Paolo.

Enter the Dragon

Rise of LenovoAnother reason this makes sense to us is that China’s technology vendors are on the rise – no surprise there. But consider that within 7 years of buying the ThinkPad brand and manufacturing rights, Lenovo has become the #1 PC vendor in the world in unit shipments, (#1 by Gartner, #2 by IDC) squeezing 10% out of the global share in a stagnant market in the last few years alone while jumping to 30% share in China, 3X the nearest competitor.  It was also announced today by Reuters that Apple fell to #6 in the Chinese smartphone market, which is growing in leaps and bounds to 60M units per quarter, with intense domestic competition and Samsung leading the pack. Lenovo is number 2 in the smartphone market as well as having the overwhelming first place position in PCs mentioned earlier, #5 smartphone seller Huawei, is gobbling up global market share in the telecom equipment market at an alarming rate.

Married to China - Economist CartoonWe have written several times about the rising competition from China in the hardware manufacturing end of the IT market, and of its’ growing importance as the second largest PC, and largest Smartphone market in the world, with a billion users and 60 million units sold per quarter. As shared with our readers in a September article about Internet adoption and managed economies, China and Korea have many similarities that make for a reasonable scenario of things to come. Take it from someone who lived 15 years in Asia and has been watching Korea for 30 – the voracious appetite for material wealth, pragmatic style of government and East Asian capitalism will leave no stone unturned. Take Samsung for example: between 1990 and now they have become the number one maker of TVs in the world, starting from scratch and displacing the Japanese faster than they displaced American manufacturers, #1 in memory chips and some other semiconductors, #1 in Smartphone handsets (almost double Apple in unit shipments), a global leadership position in screen technology, squeezing Sharp, Toshiba and others for the keys to the future standard, and a global frontrunner in CE and white goods. These guys are US Steel in their heyday. And they are a major supplier to Apple for the most important products. And the legal battles are not over yet, according to this CNET News video. They have Foxxconn on the left and Samsung on the right. With friends like these who needs enemies?

CNET on Samsung Apple Lawsuit.

Strategically Apple’s move is understandable, at least from the outside looking in. Steve Jobs’ genius for aesthetic design, usability and commitment to quality helped create the PC revolution, arguably the single most important technological advance aside from the Internet since the Industrial Revolution. It also got him ousted from Apple as decisions about long term architecture were made. Although Apple always had (and still has) a very loyal following in the computing arena, they did not gain more than 10-12% market share from 1980 to 2000. This meant that Apple had to drive enough margin to support R&D for operating systems, a proprietary microprocessor, end user applications and non-standard chassis and other components.  By contrast, the rest of the PC market leveraged standards and Scale Economies as investments were diffused in the market. The Microsoft standard OS and a maturing suite of interoperable applications were the lynchpin of the ecosystem and resulted in hundreds of companies joining the competitive fray. White box and private label manufacturers sprang up everywhere, eventually producing branded competitors like Dell and Compaq who were selling practically as fast as they could produce. By 1996 Apple was being counted out by many analysts as an also-ran. Eventually in 1997, Jobs was brought back in to save the company, which was considered a very risky personal move at the time.

iPod 2G brings legal music to the massesIn his second stint as CEO, Jobs turned Apple around and helped solve a problem that almost put the recording industry into insolvency; how to make money in the music business when new technologies allowed free files to be distributed at will and pirated on a global scale. Apple introduced iTunes in conjunction with EMI, and solved the Digital Rights Management issue. Under Jobs they had to kowtow to Redmond and adopt compatible MS Office Application Suites, which were not interoperable to that point – no swapping files between Apple and Microsoft users, and move to an Intel architecture. Despite several earlier failures, such as the Newton, Apple achieved a breakout hit with the iPod, and iTunes began printing money. Next came the iPhone, which almost immediately become the third largest handset brand in the market, followed by iPad in 2010, and several versions of iPhones. The products have produced a ravenous worldwide customer base and made Apple the most valuable (tech) company in history with a half-trillion dollar war chest.

The point is that Apple’s meteoric rise is more a function of the transition to CE and Smartphones than its’ leadership in computing and now they are in a bind; they are stretching their existing supply chain, they rely on advanced manufacturing resources and skilled labor that have been developed offshore, their largest potential market (China) is controlled by arch-rival Samsung, with whom they are in a nasty legal battle and depend on for key components. Prepare to Repel Boarders.

Next Chapter in the Bits vs. Atoms Saga

The Crown JewelsApple’s success with iTunes came as a result of a property of the Internet that is now at the root of their problem: value moves at the speed of light when it can be digitized, and even when that value is in the form of an optimized supply chain, there are physical limits imposed by materials and the movement of products that ultimately make manufacturing a challenging business. On one hand you have companies like Apple, who source, manufacture, sell and distribute 125 million smartphones, along with millions of other devices. On the other hand there are companies like Google, whose value can be delivered over a network, relying on increasingly large server farms and unfettered access to electricity, but with much less need for operational infrastructure. Cisco and Oracle are another example although not as stark. Huawei is exerting substantial pressure on US firms as a global competitor and causing Congressional sabre rattling, as we noted here.  Telecom equipment has been a hardware-oriented business but is less at risk because of innovation toward software and network integration – moving toward bits and away from atoms, demonstrated by Cisco's recent alliance with Citrix. Earlier we discussed Lenovo, which has overtaken first Dell and now HP and is the global leader in PC unit shipments.

As noted, we think moving some manufacturing back to the US will bring some benefits, not least of which is the PR value of bringing some jobs back home. It is slightly diluted by the fact that production of the most important product lines will not be possible for some time to come and does not decrease reliance on Foxxconn or really help with the Samsung conundrum. However if the experiment succeeds and a profitable advanced manufacturing sector can be developed and others follow suit it will be a very good thing for all of us in the technology industry.

Davis Blair

SMB Managed Services Forecast tops $44B by 2016

According to our latest forecast, which takes into account the first three quarters of 2012 research, the SMB Managed Services market will grow from $27B to $44B between 2012 and 2016, compounding at over 12%.  Remote management monitoring services will cross US$15B during the same time period. Key points of the update include:

Techaisle SMB Managed Services Forecast

The most attractive segments are shown in the chart and sorted based on opportunity (2016 value>$1B), and growth (arrows are relative), so the largest and fastest growing segments are shown. Rank based on revenue opportunity is listed in the left hand column.

13 of the 19 sub-segments are expected to reach over 1B$ in opportunity by 2016, with over half growing at double-digit rates,

The Remote Services segments are generally growing faster than onsite, with notable exceptions in India where the labor market and domestic bandwidth contribute to a viable onsite market, and China, where second and third tier markets are expected to adopt remote services more slowly than the combined remote/onsite increase.

While at 12%, the market is not growing quite as fast as in Cloud Computing, the robust increases will be a very good opportunity for SPs and MSPs in the market. The difference in fulfillment and delivery between cloud computing and managed services is thinning rapidly. Channel partners and managed services providers are quickly cross-migrating their skill sets to serve both technology areas. The path being chosen by Channels to move from one offering to the next is strongly dependent upon their current offering.  Those that are in the mobility space are moving to cloud, while those in the cloud are moving to managed services. The point being that understanding the channel dynamics and current offerings can provide  clues in the direction they will move. Similarly, within managed services, the channels are moving from one offering to another; vendors wanting to partner with Channels must identify the ideal cluster of services to take advantage of Channels outreach and capabilities.

Techaisle offers forecasts for all the above sub-segments by Region, Country, SMB company size and Channel flow share, customized to your needs. Please contact us if you would like more information on how this information can be combined with your internal market model to offer a clearer view of  opportunity and resource allocation to best increase market share share during 2013 and beyond.

Target Market Attack Strategy


Larger SMBs = Easier Sell: Larger SMBs with more complex needs are more likely to be receptive to using managed services. While the adoption varies by service, a “safe” rather than a sweet spot to target are businesses with 20 – 249 employees. Younger IT managers and business decision makers that are growing up in the "work from anywhere, anytime, any device" era are more likely to consider managed services as a first response rather than an after-thought. Improving mobility solutions (devices, bandwidth and applications) is also creating a favorable environment for managed services. IT Vendors should be careful to note that they are running a service business and as such, buyers tend to set a higher bar. Loyalty to a particular vendor is driven by quality of service, reliability and uptime, responsiveness and customer service (no different from any other service business today). However, the provider market today is very fragmented. After so many years, there is still some confusion among SMBs in understanding what managed services really means and how it is different from cloud.

Many SMBs still have their channel partners “manage” their network and other IT infrastructure on site by sending support staff over. Small businesses in particular are seemingly gravitating towards service providers, many of them are single–person individuals. In some other cases, large service providers are also motivating small businesses to use their services as “hosters” as opposed to monitoring and management. Backup and Recovery services are increasingly gaining ground with small businesses with many new offerings being introduced by service providers including large IT vendors. Traditional server backup methods are being shunned by small businesses, as once-a-day backups leave them vulnerable to data losses and trouble recovering data quickly in the event of a data corruption, virus or other disaster. Lack of adequate IT staff also results in inconsistent backup procedures and failed data recovery. This is one area where remote backup managed services show a higher usage than combination (onsite/remote).

Techaisle research shows that many of the factors that drive SMBs towards Managed Services are very similar to the benefits they seek from cloud computing:

    • Strategic (Focus on core business, Reduce risks, Improve competitiveness and reaction time)

    • Tactical (Cost control, Lack of IT staff, Better IT response time and proactive management)

The combined benefits are increased agility and lower business risk, which translate into a more competitive posture and less stress for the SMB owner. It is therefore not surprising that Cisco has led the way by combining its managed services and cloud computing channel programs.


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