Monday, June 2, 2008

SMEs - the problems with buying IT (12/2006)

One of the key problems for SMEs is buying IT solutions in their business.The problem is caused by the fact that almost every country has a different definition of what an SME is. In the USA it is a business with up to 500 staff while in some countries it is up to 50 staff and in others still as little as 10. Furthermore, statistics show that even in the USA 70% of SMEs are 1 person businesses.

In fact I often see IT adverts in South africa where they are advertising say a switch "with 50 ports - ideal for the SME". It is time the IT industry spent a little money to understand their market better.

As the USA is the largest market, and many manufacturers are based there, everyone uses this as a yardstick.This leads to equipment which is way too big and too expensive for the bulk of the international SME market This is why manufacturers are battling to sell their products and SMEs have no clue as to what to buy.

Most SMEs have no IT skills and are often intimidated from purchasing IT products as a consequence. While the USA is a very big market, the rest of the international market cannot be ignored, and manufacturers need to acknowledge and understand this. Furtermore, in most countries the largest number of SMEs have less than 10 employees. Perhaps they will then market better products in a more attractive way to "small" SMEs. For example a business in a box IT solution. You simply buy a "box" which allows you to grow up to "X" number of workstations, and includes relevant numbers of software licences for wordprocessing, spreadsheets and accounting software. Why not include a VOIP telephone exchange solution as well?!

It is a market with simple needs and low IT skills. It cannot be that hard to corner this market with a true SME solution.

Rob Smorfitt

No comments: