Last year’s miserable economic conditions forced a lot of SMBs to shelve plans for better integration, maintenance, and software upgrades, but many plan to address those tasks in 2010. That doesn’t mean solution providers should expect a slow year; on the contrary, there are plenty of opportunities to help existing SMB customers with maintenance and upgrades and to win new business—if you just know where to look.
In fact, in 2010 SMBs will devote more than half of their software budgets to integration and maintenance of existing systems rather than new and emerging technologies, says a recent survey of 2,200 IT executives by Forrester Research Inc. Most SMB customers will focus on three areas: collaboration, content, and document management and business intelligence, says Stefan Ried, Ph.D, a senior analyst at Forrester.
According to the survey, nearly 60 percent of SMBs say they are expanding and upgrading their collaboration software or have already done so; just over 50 percent will focus on more sophisticated content and document management; and a little more than 40 percent will upgrade customer relationship management (CRM) software and/or information and knowledge management (IKM) software.
These focus areas are all part of SMBs’ need to do more with less, add greater visibility into business processes, and better control spending. “If you want to survive this downturn, you want to have better communication with suppliers, customers, and vendors, and tight control over what’s going on in your company,” Ried explains. This need has created great demand for solutions that can help SMB customers view, analyze, and communicate about business processes more easily and cost-effectively, he adds.
Another area that remains hot is mobility, says Lonny Oswalt, CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based enterprise mobility software provider MobileFrame. Companies of every size, but especially SMBs, are taking advantage of cutting-edge mobility software to help gain a competitive edge in a tough economy. “We’re seeing record quarterly sales, even in the worst economic times, as customers adopt mobile communication, RFID, back-end systems automation, and other technology to help their mobile workforce be even more flexible and available,” Oswalt says.
Enterprise mobility continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of the marketplace, and it’s an area solution providers can’t afford to ignore. “VARs and ISVs have to take advantage of this area while it’s hot,” says Oswalt. “Customers can do little else but stay at the forefront of these technologies if they want to survive and keep growing.”