The small and mid-sized business (SMB) sector is forcing dramatic changes in the technology industry as SMBs increasingly demand technology which effectively spans their business and personal needs, and provides easy access to their data from a range of devices.
That’s the view of Lenovo’s Africa head Henry Ferreira, who says SMB owners are often among the most aggressive users of technology in all fields of their life, and are looking for solutions that meet numerous needs at the same time.
“Right now, SMB decision-makers and employees are reaping the benefits of social networking and collaboration tools like Facebook in their personal lives – and are asking us how they can derive the same kinds of benefits in their businesses. They want to make information easier to find, share and use; extend and enhance the body of shared knowledge; and connect with people they need when they need them,” says Ferreira.
“That means giving them tools and platforms that pull together people, tools, services and content. After all, collaboration is the only business activity that every employee engages in every day – offering vendors a great opportunity to expand their market footprints and installed base.”
But, while the SMB market is key to Lenovo’s growth objectives in emerging markets – including Africa, Ferreira says vendors are having to be more innovative and deliver more value to this segment of the market than ever before.
“The SMB market is providing a unique set of challenges to the industry right now. Technology is critical to achieving their objectives, and they often know what they need – but they’re invariably operating on a constrained budget, and not using technology to its fullest potential,” says Ferreira.
“Cash flow’s the big pain point – but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they need solutions that help them operate more profitably, grow revenues, increase productivity, save money or gain time-to-market advantages.”
Another key element that SMBs want from their technology today is seamless connectivity and collaboration, says Ferreira. They are invariably swamped with information, and need better collaboration tools, integrated with their daily workflow, to bring order to the chaos.
SMBs are using smart mobile devices and services even more than big business to stay in touch and access critical information while they’re on the road. The key thing here, says Ferreira, is that any installed technology needs to synch seamlessly with all devices.