Feeds

The SMB hype cycle

'Here we go again'

Security for virtualized datacentres

Every few years, we hear a surge in the talk about "the SMB opportunity" and what IT vendors can do to exploit it. Yet smaller organisations have been using IT for a long time now, and there is a well established community of suppliers that has been servicing their needs for many years.

So what's behind all this recent attention?

Largely it is to do with traditionally enterprise-focused IT vendors periodically waking up and thinking "there's a whole new untapped market out there that we should be paying more attention to". Of course, by "untapped" they generally mean "by them", rather than in the absolute sense.

Meanwhile, the rest of us look on, thinking "here we go again", knowing that it will all blow over as most of the pretenders discover that working the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space is too much of a long-term play to fit with the cut and thrust of immediate quarterly revenue targets and aggressive market creation initiatives. The stalwarts are then left to get on with it as usual and the cycle starts over again a few years later.

To understand what's behind this, it is worth taking time to consider some motives and practicalities.

Let's start with the IT vendors themselves, i.e. software authors and equipment manufacturers. The core business of these players is to make money from their R&D investment in new and enhanced technologies. Unless they drive new offerings out into the market frequently enough, they go out of business. Even so-called "cash cow" products offer limited protection from this market reality, as they must be refreshed from time to time to avoid slipping into the land of legacy.

In the enterprise market, provided we are not in a downturn, the constant need to drive out new technology offerings is manageable. With the potential opportunity to provide solutions for large numbers of users within corporate accounts, suppliers can afford to train up specialist teams then spend time in the sales cycle educating, evangelising and hand holding.

From the buyer perspective, things tend to work pretty well too. It is normal for larger organisations with big IT departments and an extensive range of skills to allocate resource to exploring new technologies. This allows them to make an early assessment of the value and risk of significant proposed upgrades to existing systems, as well as to check out opportunities relating to novel solutions that are just emerging. Lab tests, benchmarks, proof of concept studies and experimental pilots are the vehicles used to achieve this.

The problem is that none of this works very well in the SMB space. IT investment activity among smaller companies is almost completely driven by the "need/solution" mindset - i.e. the customer is generally looking for safe, hassle-free and cost-effective offerings that address immediate problems and opportunities. There are exceptions, but typically smaller businesses don't have the time, resources, breadth of skills or inclination to get involved in the same speculative or exploratory activities as their larger cousins.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.