One of the biggest challenges for a growing business is help with strategic implemention technology.
IBM’s Mike Gerentine, Vice President of IBM’s Small Business Unit (formerly heading IBM’s channel push), explained to me that IBM is experiencing tremendous, double-digit growth in serving the needs of the medium sized business market. Double digit growth in fact.
There are those businesses who for a number of reason do not consider technology an important part of their business and do not invest in it – beyond what they need to. Upgrades are few and far between.
There are those who know that technology is important but don’t have the resources or know how in how to invest in the technology they need.
Then there’s those small businesses, many who are growing into medium sized businesses and they do invest in technology. What’s important for them is a strong partner who can help them implement the technology they need and when.
IBM is that partner in a small pool of large players who are and can effectively serve the needs of mid size companies. The pool of large IT vendors is small, but there are hundreds of local consultants who partner with these vendors (Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and others) to implement solutions.
In IBM’s definition, very small businesses have less than 100 employees. The mid-market of small businesses have from 100 – 1,000 employees. This is the market that IBM is putting a lot of its efforts into.
Small businesses have a lot of options for their needs – email marketing, web site building, finances – many of these things can be done with existing turnkey/off-the-shelf tools. But for mid-size businesses who need more robust solutions, for larger transactions and with better support a “mid-sized” solution is critical.
The overall foundation for IBM’s solutions for the mid-market is its Express software, offered through partners. These express solutions, are solutions specifically designed for mid-size businesses and work on top of a core foundation of IBM software:
Lotus (communication / collaboration), Tivoli (IT management), Websphere (web portals), Information Manager (integrates data and content) and Rational (software management)
IBM is concentrating in three areas offerings, channels (partners) and marketing in reaching medium sized businesses with its Express offerings. It is working with local partners (the only way to go in this market) to provide mid sized businesses with solutions to help them grow and thrive.
MB’s (medium sized businesses) are faced with a myriad of challenges to their growth.
The technology systems MB’s have in place are more complex and expensive. The manageability (including support) are important. The risks are also higher.
It is absolutely critical for MBs to have strategic technology systems in place.
In order for this to happen, the ideal solution is for the business to have a core IT team in place. This team is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business and for strategic planning. The second leg of this strategy is to work with a technology partner (3rd party) to assist with the execution of the strategy and day-to-day operations.
Software is the JUICE powering technology. If you are not strategically using technology to grow your business – you’re running dry.
Mark Hanny, is vice president of ISV alliances and is responsible for managing IBM’s relationships with application vendors. CRN has an interview with him about IBM’s channel relationships.