Posts Tagged ‘small business’
It’s that time of year. Google has released its 2012 Zeitgeist, telling us what’s on the minds of the world’s searchers.
Facebook, not to be out done, has released the Facebook Year In Review, “a look back at the people, moments and things that created the most buzz in 2012 among the billion people around the world on Facebook.”
Now, go and ask folks what they think about Facebook’s everchanging privacy controls, and we’ll see if the Facebook Year In Review gets soon revised.
But I’m actually more interested in a big report from a small, but growing networking software and social business upstart located right here in Austin, Texas.
Spiceworks connects 2.2 million IT professionals with more than 1,300 technology brands, and offers its IT management software through a novel ad-supported model. In turn, it claims to “help businesses to discover, buy and manage $405 billion worth of technology products and services each year.”
Spiceworks just released its semi-annual “State of SMB IT Report,” a collection of statistics, trends and opinions from small and medium business technology professionals from amongst their community.
This December’s study is the seventh edition, and claims to “keep the pulse on the happenings of small and medium business IT professionals and IT departments.”
First, I’m just happy to discover they still have a pulse.
The National Federation of Independent Business’ “Small Business Optimism Index,” which is reported monthly, indicated in its November report one of the steepest declines in its history. In fact, it has reported a lower index value only seven times since it first conducted its monthly surveys in 1986.
The Index dropped a full 5.6 points in November, bottoming out at 87.5 (In 2000, by juxtaposition, it was well above 100), indicating something was rotten in November. The Index’s own Web statement suggested “it is very clear that a stunning number of [small business] owners…expect worse business conditions in six months,” and that nearly half are certain things will be worse next year than they are now, with a head nod to the looming fiscal cliff talks, the promise of higher healthcare costs, and the “endless onslaught of new regulations.”
Chicken Little, the SMB sky is falling!
Clouds, Virtualization, And Tablets Are Driving The SMB IT Spending Bus
But fear not, the SMB adoption of new technology is riding to the small business rescue, or so suggests the Spiceworks SMB IT study.
The headlines? Though IT budgets are on the rise in the SMB, hiring new staff is at a standstill. But for those still standing, in the last six months, SMBs adopted tablets and cloud services in fast-growing numbers.
Here are the four key findings:
- Tablet adoption keeps its momentum and nears smartphone levels. Hardware maintains the lion’s share of IT spend in the SMB.
- Adoption of cloud services spikes; desktop virtualization shows strong potential. (Can you say “Go long on VMWare??”)
- IT budgets reached their highest point in the last three years, while hiring freezes are up.
- BYOD is still a hot topic, though IT pros are split on the issue.
Diving down a bit, on the subject of tablets, 53 percent of SMBs now support tablets on their network, making them almost as popular as smartphones at 59 percent.
Cloud services are now used by 62 percent of SMBs, up from 48 percent in the first half of 2012.
With respect to IT budgets, they’re on the rise, averaging $162K, up from $152K in 1H 2012. But only 26 percent plan on hiring IT staff in the second half.
And on BYOD, whlie 14 percent fully embrace the trend, 32 percent say it works well for some devices, but not for others. Digging deeper, I discovered that smartphones led with 81 percent BYOD support, while tablets only garnered 62 percent.
And somewhat ironically, there’s more support for BYOD in much smaller organizations (defined here as less than 20 employees) than larger ones (50 percent in those above 250 employees).
I would encourage you to go here and register to download the full report, but the top line is this: If you’re an IT vendor looking for budget flush at the end of 2012, desktops, laptops, and servers are certainly low-hanging fruit, with tablets bringing on the most growth.
And on the software front, be on the lookout for disaster recovery and storage solutions (an IT mainstay through downturns), cloud-based solutions, and virtualization software.
Whatever you do make, just make sure you make those new purchases with “Gangnam Style” — and if you have no idea of what I’m referring to, see above with regards to the 2012 Google Zeitgeist!
IBM is on a roll recently with its market research, and this go ‘round centers on the concerns of chief marketing officers (CMOs) in the midmarket (small-to-medium sized businesses).
First, the headline: Building and sustaining brand loyalty is the top concern for midmarket CMOs, yet 72 percent of them are not sure how to effectively build this loyalty.
Additionally, 70 percent of these CMOs are concerned about data explosion, as they are tasked with making sense of highly complex information generated constantly from a variety of sources such as consumer blogs, Tweets, mobile texts, and videos.
Calgon, take me away!
The report also suggests that today’s CMOs need to be better prepared with an empowered consumer that is impacting brands instantly on Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels (Look no further than this week’s challenge that Bank of America faced when its Google+ channel was “brandjacked”!)
Sixty-one percent of midmarket are struggling with how to transform this shift into a business opportunity. Many CMOs are focused on understanding the markets versus understanding the individual consumer in order to shape marketing strategies.
Only 40 percent of midmarket CMOs are taking the time to understand and evaluate the impact of consumer generated reviews, blogs and third party rankings of their brands!
What’s the Problem?
The proliferation of social media and mobile devices is creating a new breed of consumer that is digitally savvy and is able to quickly compare and evaluate which products and services they want to buy.
Mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016, yet 62 percent of midmarket CMOs are not prepared to capture the business opportunity mobile commerce presents. This increase in the mobile shopping trend further increases marketing challenges, complicates data collection and analysis, and threatens both customer service and customer retention.
Like their peers in larger organizations, midmarket CMOs are also being held more financially accountable to their organizations to produce business outcomes at a faster pace.
The study also revealed that while midmarket CMOs believe ROI on marketing dollars spent will be the most important measuring stick for determining success of their business by 2015, the survey noted 72 percent of CMOs are unprepared for the plummeting level of brand loyalty.
Aside from current economic conditions, there’s an even bigger factor impacting brand loyalty.
Innovations in technology and the spread of social networking have provided buyers with new tools for discovering, comparing, evaluating, choosing and experiencing brands.
With the growth of social networks and a need for transparency, trust and personal exchanges between the consumer and the marketplace are now forming the cornerstone of small and midsize marketing efforts.
Everyday consumers are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data with 90 percent of the world’s data created in the last two years alone. Savvy marketers are gaining insight from social media and incorporating it into their strategies.
The key is predicting what consumers will want and then adapting marketing strategies to give them the right product when, where, and at what price they want it.
Today, retailers are embracing technologies such as analytics to make sense of massive amounts of data consumers are generating every single second to effectively target the individual consumer and enhance the shopping experience.
IBM Case Study: Lee Jeans Teams Works to Understand the Individual Consumer
Lee Jeans, one of the most recognizable apparel brands in the world faced the challenge of capturing and analyzing the huge volume of information being generated by a variety of sources before any merchandising decisions could be made on its website, Lee.com.
By adopting analytics technology, Lee employees now have the capability to quickly make informed decisions that will improve the consumer’s shopping experience.
Now, all the information that merchandisers need such as how well items sell, what is currently in stock and what consumers are saying through social media channels is organized into simple visuals that are shown over product thumbnail images on the Lee website.
With this visual layout that mirrors Lee.com, the merchandisers can easily move products around based on popularity and availability.
Merchandisers are able to see which products are being viewed most often and most importantly, which ones are being purchased most often. This ultimately allows the Lee team to display the site in a way that provides the best shopping experience for consumers.
Lee is now also able to obtain all product view data, online sales, abandonment rates and conversion rates to give Lee merchandisers a quick snapshot of product performance. Lee is also capturing consumer sentiment data generated from social media channels such as Facebook and brand rating website Bazaarvoice.
Facebook ‘Likes’and Bazaarvoice ratings are also included in the tool at the product level and these insights are used to help with marketing and merchandising decisions. Using social media and analytics Lee can now make faster and more informed merchandising decisions targeted at its customers with a simple click of the mouse
Go here for more information on the IBM Mid-Market CMO Study.
You can also register for the IBM Smarter Commerce webcast on Nov. 17 at 10am ET to learn more.
I just heard the very end of the Federal Reserve Chairman’s talk in Minnesota. When Bernanke was asked a question near the end about the movie “Too Big To Fail,” an HBO docudrama (which I highly recommend) that featured Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke, Bernanke joked: “I haven’t seen that movie…although I did see the original.”
The audience lapped it up. Who’d a thunk Ben Bernanke was a comic at heart!?
But, all kidding aside, as many eagerly await President Obama’s jobs speech later on this evening, IBM made an announcement earlier today that should help credit-qualified small and medium businesses finance IBM technology purchases.
IBM announced earlier today it would provide $1 billion in financing to help such companies take advantage of a new suite of advanced technologies such as analytics and cloud computing over the next 18 months.
This effort is intended to help SMBs spur innovation and drive economic growth by making credit more easily accessible, with approvals often in less than 60 seconds, through IBM Global Financing.
Financing is one of the biggest challenges limiting the success of SMBs today. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) consistently reports that well over 50 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years due to lack of capital. Since this segment is responsible for nearly 65 percent of global GDP, representing more than 90 percent of all businesses and employing more than 90 percent of the world’s workforce, SMBs play a critical role in a global economic recovery.
Today’s news addresses the urgent need for capital by providing the right foundation and resources to support SMBs in this economy. IBM’s commitment of $1 billion in financing for SMBs is designed to eliminate many of the cost barriers they face to grow their business. IBM will offer simple, flexible lease and loan packages, some starting at as low as 0 percent for 12 months with no money down, allowing them to immediately acquire the IBM technology and services they need to begin to transform their businesses, while managing their cash flow more effectively.
This financing will be made available to SMB clients through IBM Business Partners who can benefit from enhanced online financing tools to generate price proposals and get fast approvals for credit applications for SMB clients, all available by a simple click of the mouse.
As part of today’s announcement, IBM is also launching a comprehensive set of solutions, which include workload optimized systems combining hardware and software and services offerings focused on technologies, such as cloud, analytics, collaboration and security, specifically designed to address SMBs key needs. IBM aims to help this segment by making these advanced technologies, once reserved for larger enterprises with large budgets, available to SMBs through IBM Business Partners at an affordable price. These new offerings also introduce technologies from IBM’s recent cloud, analytics and security acquisitions such as Cast Iron, BigFix, SPSS, Netezza and Cognos.
“Reaching people on the go is core to our business,” said SkyMall COO, Jay Scannell. “The opportunity lies behind the ability to tie online buying to offline activity. This will drive expansion and innovation in the way we conduct commerce and will require the continued investment and advance technologies to keep pace. As a long-time IBM customer, we have used analytics to make key decisions about our business. Today’s news demonstrates IBM’s commitment to support and strengthen SMBs and we are excited to see the advancements this will drive in the retail industry.”
“We are currently at the forefront of an entrepreneurial renaissance that is sweeping the globe,” said Mike Grandinetti, managing director at Southboro Capital “Affordable and powerful technology has gone mainstream. It has closed the gap between big corporations and small businesses, enabling entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized businesses to radically change the way that we think about and approach our work.
“While some may find it surprising that big company like IBM is involved, they have long been a powerful ally to entrepreneurs around the world, helping small business grow and deliver the next wave of technology innovation.”
In addition to software, services and financing, IBM offers a variety of ways for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses with no-charge access to advanced technologies, leading business and technology experts and training. Through its Global Entrepreneur Program and network of 40 global Innovation Centers, IBM helps businesses solve tough challenges, enter new markets and access the training and support needed to get their products to market faster.
IBM is providing $1 billion in financing through IBM Global Financing to credit-qualified SMBs over the next 18 months. SMBs can use this financing to take advantage of advanced technologies such as cloud and analytics to drive innovation, become more efficient, and ultimately grow their business.
You can learn more here.
IBM is providing $1 billion in financing to credit-qualified SMBs to help bolster economic growth.
Okay, I went back and checked my NFL playoff picks for the weekend (see my last post).
Three out of four ain’t bad, and who would have thunk the New York Jets were going to beat the New England Patriots, especially after the season Tom Brady has had.
But kudos to Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, and the entire Jets organization — that was a helluva win and in Foxborough no less (New England’s home turf).
After watching “60 Minutes” last night and the story on sports betting guru Billy Walters, however, I don’t think I’m quite ready to start making book at $200K+ a game!
As to spending on IT in the small- and medium-sized business market, IBM just completed a global study of more than 2,000 midsize companies representing more than 20 countries.
The verdict? More than half of midsize companies are planning to increase their IT budgets over the next 12 to 18 months.
The study, entitled “Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective,” found that 70% of midsize companies were actively pursuing analytics technology to better understand their customers, make better decisions, and become more efficient.
No shocker, the study also shows growing adoption of cloud computing among midsize firms, with two-thirds either planning or currently deploying cloud-based technologies to improve IT systems management while lowering costs.
A few other choice tidbits:
- Security (63%), customer relationship management (62%) and analytics / information management (59%) were cited as their “Most Critical IT Priorities.”
- 75% plan to upgrade their core IT systems to improve performance, security and reliability.
- Top expected benefits from cloud computing include cost reduction, better manageability of IT, improved system redundancy and availability.
- Top barriers to IT adoption cited were cost, difficulty in acquiring and deploying technology solutions, and lack of IT skills and resources.
These observations suggest a far cry from a similar survey from nearly two years back, when the conversation was dominated by cost-cutting and efficiencies, rather than business expansion and gaining greater insight.
Observed Andy Monshaw, general manager of the IBM Midmarket group, “The survey findings show that midsize firms are tackling a new set of opportunities to advance their role as engines of economic growth.”
Visit here to download the full study and learn more.