Where is Small Business Spending Its Technology Dollars?
SMBs (small and medium businesses) are not typically thought of as IT pioneers. With their small size and limited resources, conventional wisdom holds SMBs usually must wait for their larger peers to lead the way when it comes to leading edge technology and then follow in their footsteps once the kinks have been worked out and prices have been lowered. Well, conventional wisdom also once held than man could not fly and there would never be a real home computer market.
According to a new report from BIA/Kelsey and Ipsos, SMBs reported spending, on average, $1,190 during the previous 12 months on websites and other Web properties, such as social networks and mobile optimized sites, up from $876 in Q2 2011. That’s roughly 36 percent growth in SMB spending on leading edge technology the space of less than a year (respondents for the current report were surveyed in August 2012).
SMBs Socialize, Mobilize
Social media, propelled by Facebook, appears to be rapidly evolving into a core medium for SMB advertising and promotion. Sixty-three percent of SMBs now use Facebook to support their businesses.
In addition, mobile platforms and the advertising/promotion formats that ride on them, have gained significant traction. About 15 percent of SMBs report having a mobile website, with another 22 percent saying they intend to add one within the next 12 months.
And more than half (55 percent) of the SMBs surveyed report they use (34 percent) or plan to use (21 percent) customer loyalty programs, defined as “offering discounts or special promotions to frequent customers.”
MSPs Need to Keep Pace
What is going here? Several factors are driving this unprecedented movement of SMBs toward the frontiers of IT, rather than the well-established middle ground. One, “leading edge” technology like social media and mobile is becoming more and more embraced by the masses. Consumers of all socioeconomic backgrounds are using sophisticated personal devices and social media networks to perform the basic functions of life, including researching and making purchases.
No matter what type of product an SMB sells, and whether it functions in the B2B or B2C space, its customers and clients expect to be able to engage it via mobile and social media channels. And those customers and clients are the same people who work for SMBs, and expect the same conveniences on the job that they get at home.
Second, providers of social and mobile solutions have “dumbed down” their solutions through simplified user dashboards and other means to enable users without a lot of IT expertise to manage them. But getting the most out of leading edge technology still requires advanced knowledge and capabilities, and that’s where MSPs come in. Any MSP serving SMB clients needs to put away preconceptions about what types of services and solutions they want. They want leading edge technology delivered on an as needed basis with effective management and operational skill. If you can’t give it to them, someone else will.