Small and Midsize Businesses Show Differing Views on Challenges, Info Sources

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    Top Features SMBs Should Look for in Collaboration Tools

    Though small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are most often lumped into one category (i.e., SMB), the SMB Group’s 2014 Routes to Market Study shows that each group has its own distinct traits that are often overlooked.

    Two recent SMB Group Charts of the Week graphics show just how unique each side is in regard to Information Sources for Technology Solutions and Top Technology Challenges. The group defines small businesses as those with 1 to 99 employees; medium businesses are those with 100 to 999 employees.

    Looking at the top tech challenges, small businesses report their top concern (with 42 percent of responses) is “Figuring out how different technology solutions can help my business,” with the same issue coming in third place among midsize businesses (with 30 percent of the responses). Though both cite technology costs as their number two concern (capturing 38 percent of small business responses and 37 percent of midsize businesses), the top concern for midsize businesses is more about implementing the new solutions and upgrades, which comes in fourth place among small business responses. In third place for small businesses is “Keeping systems up and running,” which isn’t surprising considering that most small companies don’t have the budget for a dedicated IT department or skilled IT guru.

    Business Strategy

    When a company seeks information about technology that may help its business, the Internet may give an almost unlimited space with which to perform research. But more than half of the midsize businesses (51 percent) said they seek out “Technology and/or industry analysts” for information on new solutions. Rounding out the top three responses for midsize businesses is through vendor/service provider websites (49 percent) and discussing it with consultants or professional advisors (45 percent).

    Small businesses offered a slightly modified top-three list. Although number two was the same (websites from vendors or service providers at 35 percent), the top response at 44 percent was to talk to “Colleagues in similar businesses.” This makes sense considering small businesses owners have fewer funds to throw at technology, so an owner would want to be sure a new technology worked for others before sinking his or her hard-earned money into something risky. The third-place response for small businesses seeking tech solution information, with 35 percent of the vote, was to hit the Web and use search engines (including Google, Bing and Yahoo).

    The lists from both small and midsize businesses being so different shows that vendors and service providers may need to consider different ways to approach each group when attempting to upsell a new service or technology. It seems their technology concerns and ways of seeking help can differ significantly, which could affect their willingness to sign on or even listen to a presentation from an outside source.

    Small businesses may need to hear real-life customer experiences and be provided with true, successful use cases before agreeing to a sit-down meeting. However, midsize companies may be swayed by strong reports from analysts or consultants in the field.

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ or Twitter.

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