By Anurag Agrawal
Customer is king. We have all heard the phrase and most have practiced it in our businesses. However, nowhere is it more evident than in small businesses. Seventy-seven percent of small businesses say that their business success depends upon a strong relationship with their customers, providing goods and services highly customized to their needs and being responsive to their needs, according to an April 2014 study conducted by my firm, Techaisle.
It’s important for channel partners to understand these key business value statements because they are driving small business technology purchases.
Understanding Small Business Value Drivers
Small businesses’ key business value statements have not changed over the last few years. Techaisle first asked small businesses to identify the source of their success in 2010. Specifically, we asked upon what their business success depends:
- a strong relationship with the customer and being responsive to their demands
- implementing highly efficient and optimized processes to deliver products/services at the lowest possible cost
- implementing cost-effective IT solutions to improve productivity, efficiency and profitability
- the ability to consistently innovate and bring cutting edge products to market
In 2014, we asked the question of a different random sample of small businesses and got similar responses. While we expected strong customer relationships to be get the highest response, we did not expect the rapid rise in the importance of efficient process implementation with the size of business.
The data clearly shows that for very small businesses, success is depends upon delighting customers, while for larger small businesses (those with 50-99 employees), process efficiency and optimization also are important (see chart, “Business Value Drivers for U.S. Small Businesses.")
Indeed, the rate at which small businesses are able to truly scale and achieve their value statements is dependent upon their adoption of modern IT solutions, which creates an opportunity for partners.
Mapping Value Drivers to IT Priorities
Understanding a client’s business value drivers can help channel partners to recommend enabling technology solutions.
As a small business grows to 20 employees or more, it begins to redesign and optimize its business processes to become more efficient. In fact, 27 percent of small businesses focus on business processes, which usually necessitates refresh of IT solutions, including collaboration, customer-facing and back-end applications. Another 13 percent of small businesses with 50-99 employees depend on implementing cost-effective IT solutions for improvements in productivity, efficiency and profitability.
The drive to develop new customers and retain existing ones calls for solutions supporting business growth. Collaboration, analytics and social marketing solutions, as examples, can improve sales process efficiency and visibility.
Cloud-based solutions supporting all of these business value drivers are a great fit for small businesses, freeing them from a linear hardware/ software/applications/integration path and providing immediate access to affordable, modern technology.
Growing business confidence also is freeing up resources for exploring and adopting new solutions to optimize or redesign business processes. Indeed, 74 percent of SMBs are feeling positive about their business outlook and 67 percent feel positive about the role of IT within their business. Now is a good time for partners to create business value for small businesses with IT solutions.
Anurag Agrawal is CEO of Techaisle and a veteran market research executive with more than 25 years in the IT industry. As an analyst he focuses on the SMB market and channel partner segments. He writes on and advises IT vendors and channel partners on cloud computing, routes to market, emerging technologies, mobility, big data, the state of the SMB market and channel dynamics. Previously Agrawal headed Gartner's Worldwide Research Operations. He began his career with IDC and is credited with launching IDC's quarterly tracker research.