• SIMPLIFY. EXPAND. GROW.

    SIMPLIFY. EXPAND. GROW.

    SMB. CORE MIDMARKET. UPPER MIDMARKET. ECOSYSTEM
    LEARN MORE
  • ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

    SMB & Midmarket Analytics & Artificial Intelligence Adoption
    LEARN MORE
  • IT SECURITY TRENDS

    IT SECURITY TRENDS

    SMB & Midmarket Security Adoption Trends
    LATEST RESEARCH
  • CHANNEL PARTNER RESEARCH

    CHANNEL PARTNER RESEARCH

    Channel Partner Trends
    LATEST RESEARCH
  • FEATURED INFOGRAPHIC

    FEATURED INFOGRAPHIC

    2024 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges
    LEARN MORE
  • CHANNEL INFOGRAPHIC

    CHANNEL INFOGRAPHIC

    2024 Top 10 Partner Business Challenges
    LATEST RESEARCH
  • 2024 TOP 10 PREDICTIONS

    2024 TOP 10 PREDICTIONS

    SMB & Midmarket Predictions
    READ
  • 2024 TOP 10 PREDICTIONS

    2024 TOP 10 PREDICTIONS

    Channel Partner Predictions
    READ
  • CLOUD ADOPTION TRENDS

    CLOUD ADOPTION TRENDS

    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption
    LATEST RESEARCH
  • FUTURE OF PARTNER ECOSYSTEM

    FUTURE OF PARTNER ECOSYSTEM

    Networked, Engaged, Extended, Hybrid
    DOWNLOAD NOW
  • BUYERS JOURNEY

    BUYERS JOURNEY

    Influence map & care-abouts
    LEARN MORE
  • DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

    DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

    Connected Business
    LEARN MORE
  • MANAGED SERVICES RESEARCH

    MANAGED SERVICES RESEARCH

    SMB & Midmarket Managed Services Adoption
    LEARN MORE
  • WHITE PAPER

    WHITE PAPER

    SMB Path to Digitalization
    DOWNLOAD

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.
Anurag Agrawal

On SMB MSP & Cloud Channel Challenges

On 7th January, Harry Brelsford, Founder, SMBNation had a Q&A webinar with Techaisle on the challenges of SMB-focused MSPs and cloud channel partners. Given below are his questions and Techaisle’s responses.

Harry: Referring to this blog SMB IT Channel has reached an inflection point can you better define “inflection point?” does that mean a tipping point before collapse or a pivot?

Anurag: It is a pivot not a collapse – “one stop solution shop” is dying as each of cloud, mobility, managed services and CI/virtualization gets too complex for generalists to manage. The IT channel is changing, permanently and in ways that are entirely different from what we have seen in the past. In the same way that “cloud” refers to a very wide range of very different IT models and deployments, “the channel” is becoming a generic phrase that describes a set of business approaches that is increasingly specialized and fragmented. The areas that I just mentioned – cloud, mobility, managed services, virtualization - today, there is substantial overlap across these categories – but it is our belief that over time, success in any one of these areas will require discrete focus and investment, reducing opportunity for equal success in/focus on other competencies.

Harry: I like how you provide historical context – the comment you made regarding a market defined by the adoption of a particular type of technology (e.g. small Business Server (SBS)) is a point well taken by this crowd. But I’m not sure I’m seeing a cult-like community emerge around any particular cloud product (e.g. Office 365). Would you agree?

Anurag: Talking from a channel POV, agreed. If there is a cult growing, it is around Hybrid IT; possible that Cloud Broker business model will get to this level as well. SMB organizations will accept the notion that their focus on cloud needs to evolve into a focus on hybrid IT, as firms realize that their platforms and management scope must encompass on and off-premise systems. Truth of the matter is that Office365 also disintermediates the channel. There is no stopping an organization from going directly to Microsoft and purchasing and installing Office 365 as opposed to using SBS from a channel partner in the past. It is a classic cloud vs. on-premise conundrum. The ecosystem should evolve but it will evolve around integration of data and applications.

Harry: Along those lines, I just had a conversation that I’m not seeing the same ecosystem building up around a cloud product or service. For example, we’d like to take credit that SBS really helped build Trend Micro and today it’s a $1b company. But I’m not seeing these add-ons in the same way with Office 365. The only thing I can point to are a few SharePoint snap-ins and a few tools (migrations, etc.). Do you agree or disagree?

Anurag Agrawal

Mobile App Adoption exploding within SMBs and Midmarket Businesses

Data drawn from the Techaisle SMB mobility survey shows that SMBs will go from a current average of 7 types of mobility applications in use to 14 in about a year. This 100%-ish growth pattern is demonstrated across most employee size segments.

When we overlay business size with Techaisle’s attitudinally-defined segments of “Pre-IT,” “Basic IT,” “Advanced IT” and “Enterprise IT,” some differences in app adoption emerge. Businesses in the “Pre-IT” segment (found only in the small business group) are currently using only 3 types of mobile apps, versus 7 type of mobile apps in use in each of the “Basic IT: Small Business” and “Advanced IT: Small Business” segments.

This same trend is visible across the three attitudinally-defined midmarket segments. “Basic IT” firms in the midmarket segment are using only 4 types of mobile apps, and planning to add 5 more; both figures are below the adoption rates seen in Basic IT in the small business community.

The more sophisticated segments, though, are adopting mobile applications much more rapidly. The Advanced IT: Midmarket group uses an average of 8 different types of mobile applications today, and is planning to add 6 more in in the next one year, figures that tie very closely to Advanced IT users in the small business community. And the Enterprise IT segment found only within midmarket firms is even more aggressive in mobile app deployment; these firms already use mobile applications in an average of 11 types of apps, and are planning to deploy 9 more.

Mobile applications: scope for growth in core apps and in other categories

The Techaisle SMB mobility adoption survey tracks 20 types of mobile applications. Although there is always overlap between different feature sets and application types, its possible – and useful – to group these into four categories:

Anurag Agrawal

Managed services in the SMB channel

What is the current state of managed services in the channel?

Techaisle’s SMB global channel partner research shows that in the US 71% are currently offering one or more managed services solutions and another 18% are planning to offer managed services within one year. Techaisle believes that the channel is at the beginning of a migration from generalist to specialist firms that will play out over the next few years. With that in mind, it is fair to ask, how widespread is managed services delivery today?

Figure below, taken from Techaisle’s US SMB Managed Services Channel Study illustrates the proportion of channel partners that currently offer managed services to SMBs. Unsurprisingly, 100% of MSPs report that they do so. What might be more surprising is the extent to which channel members with other core business models provide managed services to their SMB clients. Roughly two-thirds of VARs and SPs, and 80% of SIs, offer managed services to SMB customers. IT consultants are less likely to do so, but here, too, one-third of firms are already using managed services delivery to support SMB clients.

techaisle-us-smb-channel-managed-services-current-planned-resized

Above data demonstrates that there has been and continues to be substantial take-up in managed services as a business delivery model outside of MSPs. This will help to build SMB customer awareness of the benefits of the approach and comfort with managed services as a delivery model. It will also have a positive impact on the channel generally, as experience with managed services helps build channel familiarity with recurring revenue models which will be important in other important channel business areas, such as cloud.

Comfort level with – and profitability of – managed services

Clearly, SMB channel members of many types are investing in developing managed services capabilities. This trend begs the question, to what extent are these firms benefitting from these investments?

Anurag Agrawal

SMB top 10 technology predictions: 2016 and beyond

This is a two part blog article. The first part, published earlier, reviewed the predictions we made for 2015 and the second part, below, focuses on outlook for 2016 and for the longer term (2017 - 2020).

Top 10 Predictions for Year 2016

1. 2016 will see even more intense emphasis on “CIA-Plus”
IT Suppliers will begin to align their offerings with Cloud, IoT, and/or Analytics; products that do not address end-user needs in these areas will be positioned as infrastructure and integration services needed to capitalize on these technologies. This trend, like hybrid IT, will continue into 2017. In 2016, Cloud and Analytics will remain among the top five IT priorities of SMBs and midmarket businesses. IoT will inch its way up into the priority list, though adoption will remain limited.

2. Rise of IoT will be constrained by a lack of real-world examples
From a buy-side perspective, the rise of IoT will need to be fueled by real-world examples showing the benefits of automating tasks and processes within IT and in other sectors. Within the SMB community, we expect sporadic implementation and a lack of concerted effort towards creation of IoT strategy, even though IT suppliers will continue to push forward their solutions hoping to remain top-of-mind in order to claim leadership in this emerging space. Each IT supplier will create its own solution set causing decision and adoption inertia, despite the wave of innovation that we expect to see emerge from the smaller & more agile IoT providers that are able to more easily align IT expertise with real life solutions. Experienced consultants and system integrators in particular will hold sway in matching SMB adopters with suppliers.

3. IoT supplier success will be determined by ecosystem management
On the sell side, the rise of IoT will be accompanied by an intense wave of interest in ecosystem management. It is difficult to buy or sell a “box of IoT”, though providers will claim to provide complete solutions. Parenthetically, this constraint is not limited to IoT. While it is possible to sell a “box of cloud” under the right circumstances, only AWS really manages to do so. And while one can sell a “box of analytics”, the boxes themselves come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. To meet SMB and enterprise buy-side demand for IoT, sellers will assemble coalitions that provide the many products and services that comprise an IoT solution. This will make alliance management a key success factor in the marketplace. The last time alliances determined market leadership; SAP became the global standard in ERP. Niche value added reseller may find a new source of success in IoT.

4. Business transformation will continue to elude analytics users
Analytics users will find that they are not achieving the expected benefits, prompting divergent responses. Some SMBs will find that analytics has not been transformative, and will blame the technology; others will look to move past descriptive and diagnostic views, piloting predictive or prescriptive initiatives. One of these responses is clearly more sensible than the other, but that does not mean it will be universal, at least in 2016. Focus on visualization will increase (mine is better than yours), on how the technology can solve business issues and challenges for SMBs and midmarket customers. Simplified implementation of customer and social analytics will be key drivers of adoption.

5. “Hybrid” will be used more often in conjunction with “IT” than “cloud”
User organizations will accept the notion that their focus on cloud needs to evolve into a focus on hybrid IT, as firms realize that their platforms and management scope must encompass on and off-premise systems. Truthfully, there is still a lot of work to do in cloud adoption. But the nature of the discussion has changed from “what and how do we move to the cloud?” to “what do we do to build an integrated, manageable infrastructure?” In 2016, there will likely no longer be an infrastructure debate about use of cloud, but there will be an important emerging discussion around managing hybrid IT.

6. Collaboration will drive “silo” to the realm of four-letter words
Anywhere, anytime also means any type of collaboration. SMB & midmarket businesses will look for unified shared workspaces that allow employees to enter into the workspace from any entry point to work together, collaborate and interact. Collaboration solutions cannot be deployed on stand-alone platforms – they need to be viewed as a framework for integrating multiple capabilities, native to multiple applications.

Research You Can Rely On | Analysis You Can Act Upon

Techaisle - TA