With the majority of New Zealand businesses falling into the small to medium enterprise (SME) category it makes sense to start working to meet the needs of this diverse group.
Established in 2003 the Small Business Advisory Group (SBAG) works to provide a small business view on development of policy relating to SMEs.
According to SBAG, SMEs are predominant in the property and business services sector and also in finance, insurance, communication services and construction industries.
In the last few years SBAG has made progress in defining the role SMEs play in the New Zealand landscape as well as the challenges the sector faces to further development.
SBAG has identified a number of burdens SMEs face including compliance, skills shortages and access to fast and reliable telecommunication services.
So what solutions are vendors doing to help address these challenges and how can you effectively sell them?
FileMaker has worked with small businesses for over 20 years and according to Steve McMannus, general manager Asia, if a SME doesn’t look at using FileMaker, it’s nuts.
“Paper and other administration work takes up a huge amount of time and detracts from getting on with core business. SMEs are looking for real productivity gains and are asking for a solution that delivers – which FileMaker does at an incredibly affordable price,” he says.
Unlike off-the-shelf business applications which, says McMannus, make a business fit around the software - FileMaker is a good fit from the ground up.
McMannus says the latest version of FileMaker – 8.5 – has a number of features that meet the needs of SMEs.
These include Web Viewer which automatically connects a database with web data, a FileMaker learning centre and pre-defined custom web addresses.
As FileMaker can store pretty much anything it can also be targeted to SMEs as a document management system to take care of compliance pains.
“We’ve really listened to what customers are asking for and have responded. For instance FileMaker has licensed in Adobe Acrobat to take care of the security aspect of documents.”
The key to successfully selling FileMaker is about how well a reseller knows their customer.
“Resellers have to be aware of the products and the customer’s skill level. For a customer there’s nothing worse than buying a product that goes over their head.”
McManus believes integration is the real key to success in the SME market, as much as it is in the enterprise sector.
“SMEs want reliability, quick ROI and TCO but many users don’t take full advantage of the technology they have in place. They all use email, word processing, spreadsheets and an accounting package but if FileMaker is fully integrated it can act as a CRM system and that’s something that is normally beyond their budget.”
He says there are a number of FileMaker developers working in New Zealand and recommends resellers take the time to discover some of the world-class solutions being developed here.
No matter what size a business is everyone has a problem with spam, email-borne threats as well as email storage and retrieval says Michael Early, GFI regional manager.
“Even businesses with a small number of employees – such as insurance brokers or mortgage advisors - face compliance issues,” he says. GFI products span a range of business problems including portable device security, network security holes and network device monitoring.
One of GFI’s key selling points, says Early, is that the products solve real problems.
“SMEs just want their systems to work, they generally aren’t that interested in IT. Technology is a tool to help them do business and that’s exactly what GFI products allow them to do without providing anything that isn’t necessary.”
Early says savvy resellers will sit down with their customer, ask intelligent questions and recommend an appropriate solution for their pain. Resellers are then in a position to sell a bundle of services around that solution.
When you look at GFI customer testimonials, it’s clear the company has some of the largest customers on earth using its products, however Early says GFI has historically played in the 1 – 1000 seat market.
As GFI products can be downloaded and trialled by end-users, the ability of the solution is clearly demonstrated to the customer. “While tech savvy SMEs will try to install the product themselves those without skills will use a reseller. GFI encourages all end users to purchase product through a reseller after downloading a trial product.”
With its Total Care initiative HP aims to develop long term relationships with SME customers. Adrian Koch, senior vice president personal systems group and SMB HP Asia Pacific and Japan, says small business customers want partners to deliver more than just a box product.
“There’s been an increase in expectations and SMEs now need to be able to integrate technology across the value chain electronically and move data seamlessly around the organisation,” he says.
Koch says the SME IT market is expected to be worth $US52 billion this year and is the fastest growing segment of the market, although he warns SMEs are becoming increasingly demanding. Interestingly, Koch disputes the term SME and believes small businesses would be better labelled “emerging companies”. “They are only small due to their current size. HP itself started out in a garage but I don’t think anyone would dare describe it as a SME now.”
Total Care has four main elements; choose, use, transition and protect and spans HP’s three business units: personal systems, imaging and printing and technical services.
“It will enrich and complete the customer experience and HP is the most credible vendor to be able to offer an end to end approach,” says Koch.
With Total Care, customers receive support for every stage of the device/computer lifecycle; from choosing it, configuration, protection, tuning – all the way through to recycling.
Koch says the initial acquisition cost is only a fraction of the management and training investment required by SME customers.
“HP has come up with a business model that’s fair to every partner. However, partners have to question whether they’re offering a solution to customers or just hardware. Successful partners will understand their customer’s growth plans and provide the technology to meet.”
Koch says customers are looking for vendors to provide a full business package - including support, stability and performance – preferably as a service.
Warwick Grey, HP SMB marketing manager, points to similar local growth.
“Recent figures from Statistics New Zealand confirms 3.5% growth in the number of kiwi SMBs, taking the total to 346,090,” he says.
Grey is passionate about the small business sector and says HP’s Taking Care of Business campaign is its way of ensuring it delivers on both technology and consumer experience by helping customers work smarter, not harder.
He says HP is fortunate to be able to offer a complete product solution to SMBs as it has server, personal computer and printer options. Combined with HP’s new recommendations to customers to plan for change using the terms; choose, use, protect and transition, Grey says IT management can become a regular part of budget planning.
“This allows customers to have access to the latest technologies, offers the best ROI and hopefully offers them a competitive advantage,” he says.
Grey says Total Care covers the full cycle of services and tools to help customers get the most from their purchase.
SMEs know they need security, but increasingly they require a broader, more complex, solution.
Zoe Nicholson, Sophos channel sales manager, says this requirement comes at a time when IT budgets and time resources are under pressure within many organisations.
“The beauty of Sophos’ solution is that it doesn’t require the customer to have a lot of internal IT resource. Plus, the majority of our customers prefer to buy off a trusted reseller,” she says.
Key to selling Sophos, says Nicholson, is for resellers to educate their customers on how the product can meet all their security pain points.
“A lot of people don’t understand the complexities of security and, quite frankly, they don’t need to. They don’t want to read the latest alerts and just want it taken care of. Sophos offers them that simplicity at a very affordable price.”
Reseller training is another key focus for Sophos, enabling partners to work in any vertical market.
“We don’t cut resellers out of particular market segments. Basically the more training a reseller does the more product they sell, especially if they want to make more revenue out of services.”
Sophos’ technologies allow resellers to deliver differentiated services. For example scanning for known and unknown threats and spam blocking provides baseline security, while extended policy control and end-user interface capabilities provide a platform to build premium services to meet the needs of more sophisticated customers.