CompTIA: Partners should focus on SMB strategy as well as technology

Article originally published by Scharon Harding on Channelnomics

Study says SMBs want solutions that will move business forward

Resellers need to focus on their customers’ technology strategy and not just products, a senior analyst has told Channelnomics.

Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis at CompTIA, said that a study released this week by the association – Enabling SMBs with Technology – showed a change in trend this year of SMBs, who are displaying a growing need for technology to guide businesses forward.

Robinson recommends resellers start moving from product-based thinking and start considering how a product fits into a technology strategy overall, while considering their client’s budget and needs.

“Not every reseller needs to transform into an MSP, and not every MSP needs to transform into a virtual CIO,” he explained. “… I think it will be less of a one-offer arrangement where someone’s coming and selling or supporting a bunch of PCs and moving toward something where they’re putting in a bunch of PCs and understanding how those interact with mobile devices and how all of that is moving the business forward.”

The report, which surveyed 500 U.S. companies, found that 46 percent of SMBs reported turning to outside IT firms when in need of more experience and new choices. In fact, more than 70 percent of SMBs said they worked with an outside IT firm occasionally or more in the past year.

According to Robinson, 43 percent of SMBs said they have a game plan for growth but do not have the “technical components” for the proper strategy.

“What we’re seeing is SMBs are wanting to move from a relationship with an outside IT firm that’s strictly about installing a product or supporting a product or repairing that product and moving more into getting them the solutions or ideas for the solutions that will match where they want to go with the business,” Robinson said.

The study claimed that web design, cloud computing and analytics are examples of technology solution needs partners can fill with strategy.

In the next year, Robinson predicts SMBs will see more technology solutions like cloud and mobility as a possibility and will be looking for a complete solution.

“They’ll begin thinking about what can be built on top of those options, and I think that channel firms need to understand those options very well,” Robinson said.

“They need to understand the different players involved. They need to understand how a cloud solution might differ from a hosting solution. Or what the benefits of an on-premise solution still might be, even though there are cloud options out there. So when [partners] meet with an SMB … they can build that solution out of any of the pieces in their toolbox.”

As far as spend is concerned, the study found that two-thirds of participants said they spend less than $100,000 per year on technology, while 29 percent report spending $10,000 at most.

Two-thirds of SMBs said they will increase their technology spending, and almost half said they would do so with a solution that progresses their business.

“SMBs still have that cost concern, but at the same time, they really want to move forward and they’ve been able to see some examples like cloud computing and mobility that can really expand their technical footprint and give them more capabilities without having to break the bank,” Robinson said.

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