Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

October 19, 2016

Considerations for UCC Vendors in the SMB Market

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 8:06 pm

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May 25, 2016

SAP’s Digital Transformation Story For SMBs

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 12:49 pm

Laurie McCabe's Blog

“Digital transformation” is one of the top trending buzzwords in technology today. But what does digital transformation mean? In broad terms, many define it as using digital technology to enable innovation and new, often disruptive, business models. However, technology vendors put different spins on digital transformation, depending on how their solutions fit in to the puzzle.

Most small and medium business (SMB) decision-makers view technology as a key to improving business processes and outcomes (Figure 1). But at the same time,SMBs rank “figuring out which technology solutions can help my business” as one of their top three technology challenges. Although SMBs have bought into the concept of using technology to improve and transform their businesses, many struggle to when it comes to putting a strategy in place to achieve these goals.

Figure 1: SMB Technology Attitudes and ChallengesSlide1

So I was interested to hear how SAP is framing the digital…

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November 30, 2015

SAP Anywhere – Enabling SMBs to market, sell and commerce with an integrated front office solution

Filed under: Analytics, Blogs - Sanjeev Aggarwal, Business Applications, Commerce, SMB, SMB strategy — Tags: , , — sanjeevaggarwal @ 4:39 pm

The retail sector has a well-earned reputation as one of the most challenging industries for participants to navigate successfully. Retailers – be they traditional brick and mortar companies, online sellers or, often, a combination of the two – must manage complex supplier relationships and inventories while also catering to the sometimes mercurial wants and needs of their end customers. For retailers, “supply and demand” is more than a trite catchphrase. Rather, it encapsulates an ever-shifting and intricate relationship that demands real-time data, accurate forecasting and efficient operations if the retailer is to generate profits in a business characterized by razor-thin margins.

SAP_Anywhere

In short, retailers truly need a 360-degree view of their business, encompassing suppliers, consumers and the many processes that connect the two. With little room for error, retailers and etailers must not only track critical operational metrics closely, they must continually strive to make their processes more efficient and effective.

Retailers sit at the nexus between wholesalers and distributors on one side, and end buyers on the other. They must deal with product availability and pricing demands from their suppliers, while keeping their store offerings competitively priced and in line with current customer demands. As friction-free online shopping options proliferate, maintaining customer loyalty as well as profitability is proving increasingly elusive. Among the operational challenges retailers face:

Retail businesses encompass supply-side and demand-side

Supplier-side Challenges:

Product availability and pricing: All but the largest of retailers are at the mercy of their suppliers, who can set prices close to retail selling prices and whose products may not always align with changing customer demands.

Incoming inventory management: Retailers need to maintain inventory levels and mixtures aligned with the current and forecasted consumer preferences, which aren’t always the same as the suppliers’ preferences and product lines.

Buyer-side Challenges:

Outgoing inventory management: Retailers must have good visibility into inventory levels and purchasing trends to ensuring that inventories are stocked to meet both current and future demands, while limiting overstocking and forced discounting.

Customer satisfaction: In addition to ensuring that they have the right product selection and price points, retailers must work to engender customer loyalty while also increasing the number and value of products each customer buys.

Commerce operations: As higher percentages of retailers enter the online selling realm, they must deal with everything from cart abandonment rates to rapid and accurate processing of orders and shipments.

In addition to the above challenges, retail and distribution business today need to think globally. Digital commerce enables them to setup web-shops and transact beyond their geographic borders and becomes players in a global economy. This is where SAP Anywhere will benefit from being part of the larger SAP company. Most global businesses need more accurate multi-currency exchanges. Does the solution calculate financials in local currencies and support local tax compliance? What languages does it support?

Having a reputable cloud provider handle these and other critical business processes – as well as providing the platform for commerce sites in some instances – frees companies from performing these tasks, which are often outside of their areas of core competency.

 Target Market:

SAP Anywhere is targeted at companies with between 10 and 500 workers. Built from the ground up for the SMB market. It leverages SAP HANA to mine the data for real-time analytics and insights.

SAP Anywhere is a cloud-based solution, it will be delivered as SaaS (software as a service) by SAP in a public cloud (Amazon cloud for the US market). While it can be accessed through either mobile devices or desktops, SAP is emphasizing that it will allow SMBs to manage their business from anywhere using their mobile devices.

Perspective and Go-to-Market Channel Implications:

SMB spending on digital commerce solutions is increasing, especially for solutions that are simple and aimed at improving customer experience across mobile, social and web. This new category of front-office solution for small businesses will open new doors for SAP and will necessitate a new channel approach. In North America SAP plans to develop new channels where SAP has not gone before for SAP Anywhere and not restrict it to their existing Business One channel partners. There is also potential for affiliate partners like PayPal, eBay, Facebook, etc. Success with SAP Anywhere will also require partnerships with other type of affiliate solution providers, as part of an expanded ecosystem, that can help specialized SMBs setup sophisticated web-presence instead of the generic out-of-box experience.

 

May 5, 2015

SMB Group talks to Atlantis Computing about HyperScale Appliance

Basic RGB

Here’s an edited transcript of my interview with Bob Davis, VP of Marketing for Atlantis Computing about their recently announced HyperScale Appliance.

bobdavis

 

 

Sanjeev: Hi, this is Sanjeev Aggarwal from SMB group and in today’s SMB spotlight I’m talking to Bob Davis, who is Atlantis Computing’s Vice President of Marketing. Hi Bob, thanks for joining me in this discussion. To start it would be good to know what types of storage solutions Altantis provides.

Bob: Okay, well first of all thank you for the opportunity to be on the call today, Sanjeev. We are excited to be launching an all-flash hyper-converged appliance, which we call Atlantis HyperScale, that provides not only compute, networking and storage, but all together in one box for up to 90% less cost than competing alternatives.

Sanjeev: And why should mid-size companies care about this solution?

Bob: I think the focus here is that this is the first commercially viable choice that SMBs have had to really adopt such a powerful component for their compute needs or their data center needs. It takes all of that functionality that I just described and makes it affordable, really addressing the needs for performance, which all-flash addresses, but it’s very expensive. It also provides simplicity, which our hyper-converged architecture promises but which has been priced out of the market for most, if not all SMBs.

Sanjeev: How do you define a hyper-converged appliance? And what services does this appliance provide?

Bob: Well, obviously the appliance manifests itself as a hardware box, as a hardware server. On it we provide an all-flash architecture, with the ability to deploy on any of your favorite hardware. For example, Super Micro, Cisco, HP or Lenovo servers, which contain, as I mentioned, compute capabilities, state of the art X86 compute capabilities and networking capabilities. So it plugs right into your infrastructure, and obviously your storage, and the storage comes in 12 and 24 TB configurations. Upon that architecture, it can run really any workload, any application. So far, customers have used it for things like desktop virtualization, database acceleration, collaboration, storage, and applications like email and other virtualized server applications that are found typically in SMB and commercial environments.

Sanjeev: Thanks. Cost is an important consideration for the mid-sized company, so how does the price point of the Atlantis solution compare to the competitors that have similar solutions?

Bob: You’re absolutely right, Sanjeev, I think cost and simplicity or time-to-value are two of the primary drivers that were included in the evolution and the development of this product line. From a cost point of view, our product starts at a price of $80,000 for an all-flash 12 TB appliance. Compare that with other all-flash appliances and you can spend up to $800,000. So a factor of 10 more expensive, even against lower performance hybrid type converged boxes you’re looking at a price savings of greater than 50%. So again, really making it commercially viable for the first time.

Sanjeev: How easy is it to deploy this appliance, and does one need to be a storage expert to deploy it?

Bob: Yeah, that points to the second of our previous comments and that is the simplicity aspect. That was really important to us, so we developed it with the idea that the customer would have very little in terms of an IT staff, that the IT Staff would be generalists or perhaps even an external IT staff. We wanted it to be able to be very straightforward. It takes less than 20 minutes to install at a customer site. Answer a few questions and boom the volumes serve up, the virtual server comes alive, and it’s available on the network for high performance. It’s very straightforward and the time-to-value is like lightning. So it’s really an awesome product for that market.

Sanjeev: And does this appliance integrate some of the previous storage systems that SMBs and mid-market companies have?

Bob: Yes, it conforms to every standard on the planet, it comes complete with networking, so it’s a plug and play component from that point of view, and serves up the storage to the network so it’s visible through the network management application that might be present at the site through common APIs.

Sanjeev: Okay, can you give some examples of initial targets for the vertical solutions and also some examples of mid-market beta customers that have tested the solution?

Bob: Sure, I think that you know, we have historically at Atlantis computing, seen a lot of pickup in the healthcare and financial services area for Software-Defined Storage as a category as a whole, Atlantis HyperScale has seen some similar kind of attraction, so mid-sized banks, regional banks, healthcare organizations, pharmacy, these are all verticals that have been very, very prominent. Another is schools. We’ve had tremendous success, historically and with Atlantis Hypsercale in the area of schools. A lot of the things that are in common in these environments, are desktops that move around whether its doctors, or students for example, or tellers, where I have a desktop virtualization application which by the way are very inefficient relative to storage and require a lot of performance which makes a hyper-converged architecture in this case, Atlantis HyperScale, perfect for those environments. And that is indeed the environment where our beta customers have come from, in addition to that, some retail and manufacturing facilities. And our customers have been both North America as well as EMIA, in terms of their geography, so we see a very global presence with Atlantis HyperScale.

Sanjeev: How does Atlantis go to market with the solution, does it sell directly or through channel partners?

Bob: Great question Sanjeev, because that’s very central to our strategy. We are going to market exclusively through Value-Added-Resellers, solution providers and so forth. We have an Atlantis Channel Program where we are beginning this through to our gold partners, but we will be expanding it to those that service the SMB market, that deal in storage virtualization markets. But again key point, a hundred percent through the channel is the fulfillment strategy of Atlantis Hyerscale

Sanjeev: And can you help mid-market companies connect with these partners?

Bob: Yes, you are able to go to our website at Atlantiscomputing.com, the HyperScale sections on the website are clear and from that you’ll be able to find a partner and get a quote. You’ll obviously get more information and really learn anything you’d like about Atlantis HyperScale and in this particular point, especially about where to buy it.

Sanjeev: Okay, thank you. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. I look forward to seeing the progress this innovative and competitive solution makes in the market.

Bob: Thank you very much Sanjeev, we will be sure to keep you and your listeners and readers apprised of our progress.

May 4, 2015

Most SMBs Now View Mobile Solutions as Critical to the Business

April 27, 2015

Drivers and Obstacles for BYOD Support

April 20, 2015

What types of mobile devices do medium businesses provide to different types of employees?

April 9, 2015

Infusionsoft ICON15: Inspiration and Automation for Small Business Marketing

Laurie: Hi, this is Laurie McCabe and I’m here today for SMB’s Spotlight with Greg Head, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at Infusionsoft. We’re at the ICON 2015 event, which is Infusionsoft’s annual user conference. It’s been a blast so far and I’d like to learn more about it, but Greg, could you start just by telling us a little bit about what Infusionsoft, and about the company in general?
Greg: Well, Infusionsoft is the leading sales and marketing software for small businesses and the company has been around for just over 12 years. It started as a small business that turned into a startup that turned into a growth company. And now it’s one of the largest software companies, with 30,000 small business customers. We serve exclusively small businesses and we have over 600 employees and thousands of partners.
Laurie: And located here in the Phoenix area?
Greg: Yes, located here in Phoenix where we started.
Laurie: Okay, and just to clarify when you say small business–because we know as analysts when people say small business they could mean a thousand different things–what’s small business for Infusionsoft?
Greg: Well, we serve small businesses that have up and running businesses. That are full time and have employees and are still owner operated, which means most of our customers have 25 employees and of that most have fewer than 10. That’s where most small businesses reside, but there’s the mid-market of hundreds employees and on up that we are not involved with at all.
Laurie: Okay, that’s good clarification. So tell us about ICON. This is the third year I’ve been here so I’m very familiar, that it’s a great event, but who is it for? What are the goals for the event?
Greg: ICON is our annual conference for users and partners, and now other small businesses that want to join in on all the learning and keynote speakers and so forth. So it’s here at the Phoenix Convention Center, we outgrew the conference room and then hotel rooms and the largest hotel in Phoenix. It’s kind of a movement that’s been happening and now there are over 3500 people here this week. Here exclusively to talk about small business growth, small business sales and marketing, some on how to use Infusionsoft better, that’s definitely part of it. You can be here for three days and attend very valuable sessions and keynotes on these topics.
Laurie: Yes, we will post a link to where people can get more information about the sessions.
Greg: Excellent.
Laurie: So, can you tell me a little bit more about the Infusionsoft solution, what does it do for small businesses? Why do they use it? What benefits do they get out of it?
Greg: Yeah, the main thing, is that our solution is the small business CRM, the contact management, the customer database, and the marketing capabilities from web forms, to emails, and all the automation needed make things go–because small business owners need to make things go.
Laurie: Right.
Greg: And ecommerce to transact online, it’s all in one system. So we help small businesses that are growing and have customers, leads in their funnel coming off the website and Facebook, the new digital funnel has exploded.
Laurie: Right. Exactly.
Greg: Most small businesses have a dozen different tools to capture leads over here and to sell something online over here. So Infusionsoft is the one system that can organize all of that.
Laurie: And to automate it.
Greg: Yeah, once you are organized you can actually automate. You can set it up to start doing things for you that we used to have to do manually.
Laurie: Right.
Greg: And that’s driving a lot of small businesses crazy.
Laurie: Yes, because you can’t keep up with the follow up and the other things that you need to do on that one off basis in a small company. Well, even in a large company it just doesn’t scale. So if you don’t automate it…
Greg: Yeah, but big companies, for instance, at Infusionsoft, we have IT resources, technology, and money to throw at it. Small businesses need one system that’s going to run and help to do that.
Laurie: Yes, absolutely, and I think that as a small business, that you got to have the inspiration, the perspiration, but then you need automation because if you don’t have that you know that perspiration factor just shoots right up.
Greg: Yeah, that’s right.
Laurie: And you’re killing yourself before long with that. And that gets on to my next question, which is for many small businesses, unless they are sales and marketing coaches, or something like that, sales and marketing is an intimidating thing. Putting yourself out there, fear of rejection and everything else. So when you counsel people about some of the basics, things they should look at when you’re thinking, “Okay how do I take sales and marketing in my company to the next level? Or I realize that my revenues are flat, or my revenues are declining, so I’ve got to do something. Where is the right place to start?” How should they think about tactics, strategy, that kind of thing?
Greg: Well, most small business owners don’t think about it separately, it’s part of what they do, and they’re in the firefight. So the first thing is when we help them, it’s a function of where they are in the stage of their business. Maybe they’ve just quit their job, and now they have the business up and running, and getting sales going for the first time. Or maybe they have some revenues and they’re trying to grow figure out tactics to make it work, and 10 or 20 employees, you’ve got different types of issues there. But primarily small businesses jump right into the tactics to go get people to talk to, to sell or convert online. So they run right into the tactical mode, and that’s where all the beginning is. They have a hard time taking a step back and looking how to optimize all that.
Laurie: Their real objectives are how they are going to measure the improvement?
Greg: Yeah, again they get a little stuck because they are peddling so fast, and they don’t look at the biggest thing underneath of all of that is distinguishing the right market for their products and services. At first everybody goes out and tries to sell to everybody but after a while, you have to start narrowing it down, to the ones who are your best customers and prospects.
Laurie: So I know you have a lot of tools to help people use the Infusionsoft solution, do you also have services to help them figure out those bigger picture things?
Greg: Yeah, well small businesses need help and between our partners and us we help them get Infusionsoft set up and get the system running and helping in their business, and we’re also advising them tactically where they should be spending time to plug the hole. Our partners do consulting as well to help small businesses figure out their marketing strategy. At ICON, over half of the speaking sessions are not about the tactical, day-to-day tactics. We are also trying to help them with ways to think about the business, and how to get through the next hurdle in the business. While businesses get to a once place, then it’s a struggle to get to the next level.
Laurie: Yeah, getting stuck and then unstuck.
Greg: So getting unstuck is a major part of what people get from coming to Infusionsoft, for a few days seeing some other possibilities and getting some tactical help to help bridge some of those gaps.
Laurie: Yeah, I like because we all get stuck in our own ruts. S one last question for you really. For you, what are the most exciting highlights here at ICON?
Greg: Well it’s a big deal for us when we get to be with all of the people that we serve. That’s why we’re here, and we get to hear all the small business stories about the stuck and unstuck. We appreciate that and all the challenges small businesses face. Some of our customers get on stage and tell their stories, and that’s a big part of what we do here. We’re continuing to grow, this is a major movement. And we’re announcing new capabilities in our product and the Infusionsoft payments to make getting paid easier and simpler, and more.
Laurie: Right, so once customers are ready to buy, you can easily process the payment.
Greg: Well, big companies, other departments handle the function of getting paid.
Laurie: We all want to get paid, right? I think that should be a good program, and you also introduced some new things to help them get started more quickly?
Greg: Yeah, there are new resources, we keep improving the resources we have for small business owners, starting with Infusionsoft get started and learn more about the concept that they may or may not know. So that’s part of our help center, and our kick-start services that we offer. And we are always making the software easier because we know small businesses have a passion, and they don’t want to spend all day reading manuals and learning to use something. You know most small business owners are focused on something else. So we try to make it easier to focus on the things that they do, and to get back the time and passion and growth in their lives. Families all that stuff that they thought they’re going to get more of, but didn’t really work out that way, so that’s why we’re here.
Laurie: This has been a great synopsis of Infusionsoft and ICON. Thanks Greg, so much.
Greg: Thank you very much.

See ICON15 event highlights here

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March 25, 2015

Number of Mobile Apps Small Business Employees Use Regularly

March 16, 2015

SMB Market

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