Nine years ago I was introduced to SMB market place at an ITES company; however the biggest challenge I faced was the learning curve and ability to understand the SMB market. We are all told till date that large corporations are better as firstly they are ‘large’ i.e. huge amounts of disposable budgets thus it was every salesperson’s goal to target fortune companies and get the maximum out of them, as inevitably they are the ones who have large spending power. Post-recession, the focus was to innovate and most IT companies were shifting their focus on SMB markets by modifying their products and service offerings as per the need, keeping in tandem with their usability and budget constraints.
However, much has changed in the last 5-7 years wherein companies, both large and small, have consciously developed better, reasonable and easy to use products and services for the SMB market. A recent report from ResearchFox, which has a dedicated team of analysts tracking the ICT adoption and trends in the SMB market, states that 60% of the 45+ million SMBs in India would like to deploy technology across Finance & accounting, business process management and business development. However, from the same lot of 45+ million SMBs, 31% also highlighted that one of the major hurdles for technology adoption is the high prices of the available solutions or services in the market. I believe the reason for some of the mismatch or lack of market capturing can be credited to the following areas that companies are not doing actively:
· Lack of awareness
About 70 – 80% SMBs are not even aware of the products that are available to help them take advantage of technology to grow their businesses. Out of this staggering number, more than half are not even aware that technology contributes immensely to the growth of a business. Recently, ResearchFox, partnered with a well-established not-for-profit organization to create that awareness in the Indian SMB market. So what did ResearchFox do to bring about this awareness? With the help of market research we understood the eco-system, behavior, need and the challenges of selling to SMB market. Post that we developed case studies of few technologically advanced SMBs and the growth experienced by them. This helped to create a strong case and to benchmark ROI. Then we started to contact the SMB companies in select large cities of India, this phase was to get a mass reach and introduce the products and services that are specifically built keeping SMBs in mind. Overall, this activity yielded in close to 7% of the targeted 3300 SMBs across major Indian cities to better understand the available products and services and how these technologies can help drive their businesses to new heights.
· Focus on core challenges
There is an unimaginable amount of repetitive product or services offered to the SMB world, the most being CRM and ERP solutions. However, while technology companies are focusing on solving Customer Relationship Management issues of the SMBs they have, to large extent, not focused on solving the issue of not having enough customers to manage relationships. ResearchFox’ team of Analysts has spoken to over 1500 SMB leaders over the past 6 months and “Sales Enablement” ranks at the top of all challenges. Therefore, products and services focusing on increasing the revenue and helping SMBs acquire new customers is the top priority for SMBs. So, if you have a product or service which does exactly that then ensure you have the right messaging to compliment your product.
· Prefer Customized Solution
Customized solutions are the norm for most SMBs today. A recent survey conducted by ResearchFox Consulting reveled that SMBs with employee size of over 100 and in operation for over 5 years prefer to deploy customized solution. Some of the top reasons being – lack of business understanding from software product companies, lack of trained IT staff and support, lack of seamless integration to other technologies, etc. However, they were also quick to agree that customized solutions come at a high cost, however had no real options but to deploy customized solutions. Maybe, technology companies should look at bridging the gap between high quality software products at reasonable cost.
· Cloud computing for SMBs
Cloud computing has made life much easier for companies of every size and shape. However, while medium to large companies are quicker to adapt to this concept most SMBs are not even aware of the benefits provided by adapting cloud based technologies. A staggering 93% of SMBs are either not aware or unwilling to adapt cloud services and this is mainly due to their lack of awareness of the cost and business benefits provided by cloud platforms. While creating awareness for 93% of SMBs might be a daunting task but nevertheless a task worth taking up if cloud based service providers are to crack this market.
While there are many other challenges faced by SMBs today but the top most challenges admitted by SMBs is the lack of internal IT expertise and high cost of IT solutions, which keep them away from adapting technology even when they are decently aware of some of the benefits it may bring to their businesses. I honestly feel that there is tremendous chance for technology providers to improve the way technology is adapted and used in the Indian SMB market place as long as they have continuous flow of on-ground information from the market and are continuously innovating with a focus on the SMB market.
Image courtesy: workingshift.com