SMB Technology? Time To Split Them Into Two Separate Markets


By its very nature, the term "SMB Technology" is an oxymoron. Technology vendors often lump or squeeze the small and midsize markets into one wrapper. But in many cases that's flawed thinking that harms customers and partners.

You know the deal: Complex, expensive midmarket solutions can't be dumbed down or priced down in the small business market. On the flip side, small business offerings often can't scale up to meet midmarket needs.

The exceptions include general purpose systems -- such as office suites, productivity software and a range of mobile devices. But once you get into business-specific tasks -- especially in vertical markets -- it's difficult to develop a single solution that can blanket all types of small and midmarket opportunities.

What's a channel partner to do? The next time a vendor announces or promotes an SMB product or service, raise these questions...

1. Market Definitions:

  • How do you define the small business market? The answers will vary. Some vendors see small business as 1 to 100 seats -- or maybe 250 seats. Others see small business scaling all the way up to 1,000 seats.
  • How do you define the midmarket?: Here again, the answers will vary. Some vendors see the midmarket as a 100 seat to 1,000 seat opportunity. Others see midmarket opportunities stretching all the way to 10,000 seats.

2. Product and Service Designs:

  1. What features and functions are specifically designed for small business customers? Plus, how do those small business capabilities scale into the midmarket, if at all?
  2. What features and functions are specifically designed for midmarket customers? And how do those features, functions scale down into small businesses -- if at all?

Listen carefully to the answers, and you'll begin to discover whether the product or service is more ideally suited for small or midsize customers from the get-go. Armed with the answers, you're now in better position to compare one vendor's SMB offering from a rival offering.

In some cases, you'll discover that you're actually comparing a small offering vs. a midmarket offering -- it's not the apples-to-apples comparison you were hoping for. But at least you're now working with your eyes wide open -- starting to draw a line between two sectors that often don't belong in the same wrapper.

SMB customers really don't exist. Long live small business customers and midmarket customers.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.