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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

Location

333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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News & Articles

January 10, 2010 |

Digital Migration: From Business to Consumer, and Back

Once, technologies for the enterprise trickled down to SMBs and then to consumers. Now, with widespread use of the Internet, those lines are blurred, with technologies often flowing in the other direction. By William Kozel

Digital Migration: From Business to Consumer, and Back

Once, technologies for the enterprise trickled down to SMBs and then to consumers. Now, with widespread use of the Internet, those lines are blurred, with technologies often flowing in the other direction.

By William Kozel

As business and consumer technologies converge, changes in their features and pricing can impact channel partners who serve small and midsize businesses. For an expert perspective on the future of digital convergence, I spoke with Charles Golvin, a principal analyst with Forrester Research Inc.

ChannelPro-SMB: What are the most important trends in digital convergence?
Golvin:
Generally, technology trends continue to move from the business side to the consumer side. A current example is unified communications, where there is a blurring of the lines between voice calls, emails, and instant messaging. This enables people to receive a voicemail that can be automatically translated into text, or a text message translated to voice. For example, you can tell the system, “When I’m on the road, I want all messages delivered to my mobile phone.” Or, “I want all my text messages to be read to me.”

Another enterprise-based trend is the ability to control how and when other people can reach you, using capabilities known as “presence” and “availability.” Presence means showing whether or not you are online, and availability is determining whether or not you may be disturbed. Users–enterprise or consumer–will set rules that dictate who can reach them, and when. For instance, you could set a rule that if your calendar indicates that you’re in a meeting, all calls must be routed to your office line unless they are from your family.

Things are now flowing in both directions, however. With regard to media consumption and communications, the Internet is so widespread among consumers that the cycle of innovation has somewhat reversed. There are now more applications for the consumer market that are migrating to the enterprise market. One example is instant messaging, which started with consumer users and is now, with different features, a core enterprise communications tool.

ChannelPro-SMB: How will digital convergence impact SMB channel partners in the years ahead?
Golvin:
The SMB sector is in an interesting middle ground today. Midsize businesses act more like large enterprises, while small businesses tend to act more like consumers. To keep pace, SMB channel partners have to interpret the direction of capabilities and services.

As prices for enterprise technologies come down, channel partners can offer those technologies to smaller clients. For example, unified communications is still expensive, and still targeted to large enterprises. But as prices decline, it will become a more viable option for smaller businesses, and things will trickle down.

On the other hand, because small businesses act like consumers, they bring consumer products into the enterprise–part of that reversal of the traditional flow. Channel partners in the SMB space, therefore, will need to keep an eye on what is happening within these more forward-looking small companies and tap into the trends that they are using to increase productivity. Then, they will need to turn those trends into capabilities that can be sold to businesses that are less progressive and slightly behind the curve.

WILLIAM KOZEL is a Philadelphia-based writer specializing in the technology industry.


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