The small to medium enterprise (SME) space is where the most significant growth in the use and application of IT will be seen in future.
That's according to Mike Hamilton, MD of Channel Data, who says SMEs have the need to adopt new technologies and the drive to become competitive in a marketplace that up to now has been dominated by larger organisations.
"SMEs are now demanding the solutions that have been commonly adopted by bigger companies," he says. "They can do this because of the falling price of hardware, software and components – such as backup solutions, virtualisation technologies and a host of efficiency orientated options now becoming available."
Hamilton says the IT industry needs to evolve in line with this trend by providing support services at reseller and distributor levels that are targeted at SME end users.
"At Channel Data we have aligned our focus with the emerging SME marketplace in a bid to provide integrated solutions and value added services to resellers addressing these companies.
"In addition, we are looking at training and skills transfer exercises aimed at resellers in a bid to assist them in their dealings with a more knowledgeable, demanding and discerning client base."
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also taking aim at the market segment, offering a range of discounts for SME software as part of what it is calling a "rescue package" to help cash-strapped SMBs through the current economic crisis.
The promotion, which runs until 30 April, includes discounts of between 5% and 20% on software packages like Small Business Server 2008, Office Small Business 2007, SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Business Upgrade.
Mark Reynolds, acting head of the SMB and partner business at Microsoft SA, says the promotion is a clear response to customers seeking more competitive strategies and offerings in the current economic climate.
"We believe that, by betting on software, businesses can achieve greater productivity and cost savings, and operate smarter and more strategically, even in times of economic uncertainty. Taking a long-term approach and making the right investments and upgrades in times like these can position a company to take advantage of the next upswing by making an organisation more efficient and flexible, and by making its IT infrastructure more reliable," said Reynolds.
The offers are being supported locally by distributors Workgroup and Comztek, who have confirmed that they will be passing the discounts on to resellers and buyers.