IT’s Dif­fer­ent, for SMBs

DQ Channels - - Channel Pulse - RA­JNEESH DE/ ra­jneeshd@cy­ber­me­

The IT chal­lenges of SMBs are in­her­ently dif­fer­ent from that of large en­ter­prises. In fact, these chal­lenges of­ten end up be­ing far more com­plex for SMBs purely be­cause of the re­straint that has to be ex­er­cised by them on the bud­get front and on var­i­ous other is­sues like server space, what model to go for, ven­dor man­age­ment, getting the right skill set etc. To add to these, while a typ­i­cal SMB in a tier 1 city shall still have some­one on the lines of a CIO, the mid sized or­ga­ni­za­tions in tier 2 cities and fur­ther down may not even have an IT depart­ment. And even in met­ros, an or­ga­ni­za­tion with a work­force of say 500 odd peo­ple, will prob­a­bly have an IT team of 4 to 5 peo­ple. In these cases, not only skill-set bal­anc­ing be­comes a ma­jor is­sue, but ven­dor man­age­ment also be­comes crit­i­cal. the big­gest chal­lenge in a mid sized or­ga­ni­za­tion is to get the ex­per­tise to set up in the ini­tial in­fra­struc­ture. In most of the cases the CIO or who­ever is look­ing af­ter IT is forced to take the out­sourc­ing de­ci­sion be­cause of limited avail­abil­ity of skillsets within the or­ga­ni­za­tion. That in turn spells op­por­tu­ni­ties for our part­ners to as­so­ciate with these SMBs don­ning the hats of both dis­trib­u­tor and so­lu­tion provider.

Add to this, in or­ga­ni­za­tions in smaller towns, these prob­lems get fur­ther mag­ni­fied; in ad­di­tion to lack of skillsets, an over­all lack of ex­po­sure to the mod­ern tech­ni­cal and business up­dates vir­tu­ally make IT a non-starter for most of them. There is a wide gulf in ma­tu­rity be­tween the met­ros and other Tier 1 cities with the hin­ter­land. The is­sue of dig­i­tal haves and dig­i­tal have-nots get ruth­lessly ex­posed here. This def­i­nitely puts more re­spon­si­bil­i­ties on the shoul­ders of upcountry part­ners—not only they should fo­cus on these SMBs merely to gen­er­ate moolah, but they need to per­form that role of IT evan­ge­lists to build an over­all tech ecosys­tem there. In­ci­den­tally, do­ing this would also en­sure reg­u­lar monetary ben­e­fits too for them. So in­stead of look­ing at short term gains here, part­ners should look at a slightly big­ger role in these cases.

Since skills at hand is a ma­jor chal­lenge which most of the mid sized or­ga­ni­za­tions have to face, the part­ners should en­ter into a business re­la­tion­ship with them not just as a seller of IT hardware/ soft­ware or a vanilla so­lu­tion provider but also help them try to fig­ure out new mod­els, that can bol­ster their busi­nesses. An­other is­sue for SMBs is the strug­gle with con­stantly in­creas­ing user ex­pec­ta­tion. Since peo­ple man­age­ment is in­ter­wo­ven with ven­dor man­age­ment (if you don't have the skill set within you have to look with­out!) and that too is en­tan­gled with bud­get prob­lems, the best so­lu­tion per­haps is to go by monthly pay­ments. There too is a big op­por­tu­nity for part­ners—in fact, if the SMBs do not un­der­stand this model, the part­ners should try to evan­ge­lize this fur­ther. Not only is this a sound way to deal with monetary is­sues for the SMBs, it also in turn will en­sure reg­u­lar cash flow for the part­ners. Bot­tom­line: part­ners should not just fo­cus on SMBs by pay­ing a lip ser­vice, they should be open to do business dif­fer­ently with them to en­sure a win-win sit­u­a­tion for both.

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