Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

February 20, 2017

2017 Small and Medium Business Routes-to-Market Study Results

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 3:53 am

Results from our annual Routes to Market Study are in! 

2017 Small and Medium Routes-to-Marker Study survey results reveal many interesting findings about how U.S. SMBs learn about, evaluate, purchase and use technologies in 9 key areas:

  • Accounting, financial and/or enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • Collaboration
  • Marketing automation
  • Sales automation
  • Customer service automation
  • Contact management
  • Workforce and human resource management (includingpayroll)
  • Payroll management (standalone)
  • Business intelligence and analytics

We’ve also examined SMB views on the role of technology in their businesses; the type of resources (internal employees/external contractors) responsible for different business functions; and current/planned initiatives to grow their businesses.

If you would like to see a Table of Contents todetermine how perspectives and data from this study can help you withinternal insights and invaluable content, please let me know. Learnmore about the study licensing opportunities here or | (508)734-5658

With 2017 well underway, quantitative research can be an invaluable tool in guiding thought leadership and marketing campaigns.

October 19, 2016

Considerations for UCC Vendors in the SMB Market

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 8:06 pm

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…

View original post 1,481 more words

September 5, 2012

Pathways to a Successful Mobile Business Strategy

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 12:24 am

The phenomenal rise of mobile applications development and adoption creates both new opportunities and challenges for businesses. Is your business ready to reap the benefits of mobile solutions, or are you in danger of falling behind? Now, more than ever, SMEs need to develop a mobile business strategy to determine why to mobilize,  who to mobilize, what apps to use, and how to deploy and manage mobile solutions.

The SMB Group recently conducted extensive research to understand the who, what, where and why of how  SMEs are using mobile solutions in their businesses. This infographic distills some of the key findings from this research, and will help you to:

  •  Benchmark how your company stacks up compared to your business peers in the mobility space.
  • Gain perspective on both the benefits and challenges that medium businesses face when implementing mobile solutions—both for internal employees, and for external users such as customers, partners and suppliers.
  • Provide you with a starting point and lay out the steps you’ll need to take to maximize the value your business gets from mobile solutions.

Want to learn more? Click on the “View Infographic” button to view the path to mobile success.

February 27, 2012

Is Your Midsize Business Ready to Change Before You Have To? Gearing Up for the New Marketing

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 12:36 am

In conjunction with IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the SMB Group and CRM Essentials are working on a series of posts discussing how technology is empowering today’s customer, and why companies have to change their approach in order to build strong relationships with them. This is the sixth post in the series.

Very few marketers would deny that marketing is in the midst of a sea change. As we’ve been discussing throughout this series, many businesses are struggling to keep up in our increasingly connected world. This rise of social media, a growing avalanche of data, and 24/7 access to new channels and devices that customers can use to learn about, shop for and buy goods and services is radically and irreversibly changing the world of marketing and commerce.

Given this reality, the central question is whether your business is preparing to ride the new wave–or is in danger of getting caught up in the turbulent undertow? In other words, to quote former GE CEO Jack Welch, are you ready to “change before you have to”? And, just how feasible is it for a small or midsize business to get ahead of the curve?

IBM’s 2011 IBM CMO study, From Stretched to Strengthened, took an in-depth look at how 1,734 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) (including a sample of midsize companies) are thinking about and dealing with these mega-changes. It’s interesting to look at these results, and how one of the midsize companies that we spoke with recently is navigating through this transformation.

Top Market Forces and CMO Concerns and Readiness to Address Them

CMO study respondents of midsize companies are struggling with four major market forces: decreasing brand loyalty, the explosion of data, proliferation of channels and devices, and social media.

Unfortunately, change is difficult–and most CMOs feel ill-equipped to address these new requirements, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Percent of CMOs Reporting Underpreparedness

To me, this level of concern isn’t surprising. Social and technology changes are escalating at a breakneck pace, in an increasingly volatile world. Wrapping your head–let alone a marketing organization–around these rapid, often unpredictable changes isn’t for the faint of heart.

Charting a Course for Change

The good news is that the vast majority of CMOs see three key areas that they need to take action in to address theses challenges by:

  • Delivering value to empowered customers
  • Fostering lasting connections
  • Capturing value and measuring results

What does this really mean? Customers have always wanted companies to listen to them and to act on the input they provide. They’ve always wanted companies to value their time and their recommendations as well as their money. But today, technology gives customers better, faster access to information, people, products and services–giving them more control over the commerce process and enabling them to wield more influence with other buyers.

Customers increasingly expect anywhere, anytime, any-device access to information throughout the commerce cycle–from information gathering, evaluation and selection, to purchase and service. They expect vendors to do a better job of meeting–or even of anticipating–their needs. This means that vendors need to understand not only “the market” but individual customer requirements and preferences, and deliver solutions to attract, interact with, acquire and retain customers on a much more personal level.

In the digital age, this means that CMOs must develop automated processes to tap into multiple channels and customer touch points. And they need new analytics capabilities to gauge and tune marketing and commerce initiatives in an actionable way at a one-on-one level.

In a nutshell, CMOs and marketing organizations need to radically reinvent marketing with automated digital and analytical processes that help them to deliver more value to customers.

Taking a Proactive Approach

IBM’s study also revealed that CMOs in outperforming companies are more proactive than their peers in tackling these issues. These CMOs are investing now to better understand individual customers as well as markets, and using analytics to help them do a better job of zero in on customers’ needs to deliver a better experience and build customer loyalty.

For instance, CustomInk, a 300-employee custom t-shirt company, uses IBM Software for Enterprise Marketing Management, specifically IBM Coremetrics, to improve the customer experience and grow the business. CustomInk relies on a Coremetrics dashboard to monitor daily key performance indicators (KPIs), such as: What percentage of site visitors go to its Design Lab? How likely is a visitor to save a design? How do aesthetic changes improve conversion rates? CustomInk uses these metrics to determine what’s working and what isn’t. For example, if the percentage of customers who save a design is low, it may be because something is broken and the customer can’t load the design. Or there may be an overload of visitors from unqualified sources.

IBM software also provides CustomInk with the ability to monitor key paths through its site on a daily basis. This enables CustomInk to determine where people “fall off” on different paths. The company can see when changes it makes are beneficial, detrimental or neutral to customer behavior. For example, CustomInk has learned that small, aesthetic changes in color or type font, or changes in button styles or colors, can impact movement through the site and affect the drop-off rate.


CustomInk drives home the point that a company doesn’t have to be part of the Fortune 500 to ride the waves that these social and technological changes are ushering in. In fact, because SMBs can often act in a more agile and nimble fashion than large companies, they may actually have an advantage over larger companies.

However, any business must start by making a conscious decision to transform their marketing team for this customer-centric world, and develop a strategy that revolves around customer engagement and interactions. Some key questions to get started include:

  • How can the business use customer interactions to better anticipate and respond to requirements, and improve the customer experience?
  • What are the different customer and prospect touch points in your organization, and how can they be strengthened?
  • Do we know where customers and prospects are talking about your products and services, competitive brands and related industry trends?
  • How do we best bring customer conversations into the company to help us better serve their needs?
  • How will we measure and analyze the results of what we’re doing?
  • How can we make the information and insights we get actionable?
  • What skills and solutions will we need to achieve our goals?

While each company will have different goals, metrics and requirements, one thing is crystal clear: the art and the science of marketing is undergoing a radical change. CMOs and marketing organizations need to take a proactive approach to use them to their advantage.

This is the sixth in a series of blogs by SMB Group and CRM Essentials that examines the evolution of the smarter customer and smarter commerce, and IBM’s Smarter Commerce solutions. For more information about CMO perspectives on several issues, see the full results of IBM’s 2011 IBM CMO study, From Stretched to Strengthened.

October 12, 2010

Dell’s Lineup of Next Generation Printers for the SMB Market

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 8:39 pm

Printer technology and use patterns have undergone rapid changes in the last few years. As prices have dropped, SMBs and home office workers are replacing inkjets with LED and laser printers.

Figure 1 – Dell’s new SMB Color LED and Laser Printer Lineup

Dell has significant market presence and share in the small and mid-size business (SMB) IT infrastructure market–with many SMBs having some combination of Dell laptops, desktops, notebook or storage products in their organization. However–and despite being in the business for several years now–Dell is not typically regarded as a printer company. At best, Dell printer products have had a reputation as “me too” products, viewed as an add-on to other product sales, and not leading products in their own right.

I attended Dell’s SMB printer announcement and demonstration event on September 29, 2010. At this event I had the opportunity to see Dell’s new line of SMB LED and Laser printers first hand and talk to the product managers of these products. It was very compelling to see the compact size of these printers and also compare some very detailed printouts from Dell’s LED and Laser printers. Also, I had the opportunity to see some printout’s from comparable competitive products.

Dell’s new line of LED and laser printers, launched on September 29th 2010, provides Dell with the opportunity to change this image and the dynamics of the SMB printer market. The new line-up offers SMBs affordable, high quality, and high performance printers with a compact, modern look and feel at affordable price points. The new line-up should help Dell compete more effectively with higher profile brands such as HP, Brother, Samsung and others.

Dell’s SMB Color LED Laser-Class Printers

LED printers use light-emitting diode arrays to create an image on the print drum or belt as it moves past. The print head flashes light across the whole width of the drum, creating each line of ink dots simultaneously. LED printers are usually more efficient and reliable than conventional laser printers because an LED print head has no moving parts. The use of LED technology makes these printers more energy efficient than laser printers.

As indicated on Figure 2, Dell’s new LED printers are designed for home office workers, very small businesses and small (2-8 users) workgroups or as personal printers in larger SMB companies. At 15.5 by 11.8 by 8.9 inches, the very compact 1250c (starting at $229) prints up to 12 black or 10 color pages per minute (ppm). The printer features a USB 2.0 interface, 150-sheet input tray, and a drum and fuser unit rated for the life of the printer. This means that the only thing small businesses need to replace are the toner cartridges.

The 1350cnw ($329) steps up to 15 black and 12 color pages per minute as well as adding both Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet interfaces for small-office sharing. Its four-in-one siblings the 1355cn ($399) and 1355cnw ($449), available for order November 16 (the other printers in today’s announcement are available immediately), comes with Ethernet and Wi-Fi interfaces for shard printing. The 1355 provides printing, copying, scanning and fax functions.

While LED printers have the rap of not producing as high quality (measured in dpi, or dots per inch) as conventional laser printers, the print quality of Dell’s LED printers appears as crisp as that of a laser printer. Looking at color images printed from several competing printers, the Dell prints appeared sharper and offered better color rendering.

Dell’s SMB Color Laser Printers

Dell’s new 2150cn and 2155cdn network color laser printers are designed for larger workgroups of eight or more users that need higher print performance. They support up to 24 mono or color ppm. The 2155cdn provides dual-sided printing with the duplex printing option, to help businesses save on paper costs and cut down on waste. The 2150cn starts as $349, and the dual-sided 2150cdn starts at $399 offer an up to 40,000 pages per replacement cycle.

Figure 2 – Printer Prices and Print Performance

– Home Office or Very Small Business

Direct Connect

– Small Work Groups (2-8 users)

Network Connect

– Larger Work Groups (8+ users)

Network Connect 

Single Function

(model price)

Pages per minute (ppm)

1250c: $229

12 mono/10 color ppm

1350cnw: $329

15 mono/12 color ppm

2150cn: $349

2150cdn: $399

24 mono/24 color ppm


4-in-1 print/copy/scan/fax

(model and price)

Pages per minute (ppm)

1355cn: $399

1355cnw: $449

15 mono/12 color ppm

2155cn: $549

2155cdn: $649

24 mono/24 color ppm



The average printer’s useful life is between 2-3 years. This means that roughly 38 to 40% of SMBs buy printers every year to replace existing printers or to add new capacity. With approximately 6.5 million commercial SMBs in the U.S. plus millions of home offices, total SMB spending for printers and related supplies in the U.S. is approximately $10 billion annually.

Dell’s new small and mid-size business LED and laser printers are compact, energy efficient, and provide high performance printing at affordable prices. With this new lineup, Dell has an opportunity to gain a bigger share of this turnover and new opportunity by replacing HP and Samsung printers, especially in SMB accounts where Dell is the preferred technology solution provider. At these price points, small businesses can have both laser quality and speed, as well as color printing, at inkjet and black and white pricing–which may hasten the replacement cycle.

The Dell 1250c is one of the most compact and high-performance LED personal color printer that is very competitively priced for the very small business or individual desktops. Dell’s 2150cdn printer is about the same size with higher-performance compared to similar HP printers. In the All-in-one printers, Dell’s (1355cn/w and 2155cdn) are also more space efficient and higher-performance compared to HP and Samsung printers.

However, Dell’s new printers are only available on the website, which will prohibit exposure and sales to small businesses that want to physically see and touch products before they buy them. These customers—and there are many of them—are more comfortable shopping at retail stores like Best Buy and Staples–where competitive printers are plentiful. To cast a wider net, and become a leader in the SMB printer market, Dell needs to supplement its direct model with a strong presence for its small business printers at the retail outlets that small business owners and office managers frequent.

August 2, 2010

Dell’s Expands its Infrastructure Solutions and Services Portfolio with New Security Solutions for Midsize Companies

Filed under: Uncategorized — sanjeevaggarwal @ 9:21 pm

Over the past couple of years, Dell has been building a very significant set of IT solutions and services portfolio geared to providing small (which Dell defines as companies with 1 to 100 employees) and midsize companies (defined by Dell as businesses with 100 to 500 employees) , but more appropriately, “S” as companies without dedicated IT staff and “MB” as companies with dedicated IT generalists, with the capabilities they need to more effectively and productively manage their growing IT infrastructure investments. Dell’s focus on this area is underscored by its recently announced (July 28, 2010) midsize security initiatives and partnerships with Juniper Networks and SecureWorks.

Security continues to be one of the top technology challenges faced by SMB and midsize businesses. In the SMB Group’s “2010 SMB Routes To Market” study, medium business survey respondents indicated that “implementing new solutions and upgrades needed to keep IT systems up and running” is one their top 5 technology challenges. In addition, although spending on infrastructure services and solutions have lagged behind other areas during the economic slowdown of the past two years, a sizable percentage of midsize companies across different employee size bands plan to purchase infrastructure solutions and services in the next 12 months, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Technology Solutions Purchase Plans for Medium Businesses

Often lacking the internal expertise and resources required to address internal and external infrastructure management requirements, SMBs and midsize companies are turning to third-parties for help. In particular, the changing and volatile nature of security threats–along with the potentially high damage fallout should a breach occur–is a serious challenge and threat for these companies, who are unlikely to have the capabilities to provide proactive, 24/7 monitoring and problem resolution.
Dell’s security strategy is to provide end-to-end solutions and services, integrating best-of-breed security products and service from both Dell and its partners. While many point solutions are available in the market today, Dell’s more comprehensive and helps customers identify threats, monitor and manage security risks, and comply with industry or government regulations. This approach can give businesses peace of mind, and allow them to focus on their core business, instead of worrying about IT vulnerabilites.

The Dell Security Solution portfolio includes:

  • Network Security Appliance. The J-SRX Gateway is a Dell-branded network security appliance that Dell co-developed with Juniper. The J-SRX integrates firewall, VPN, Intrusion prevention, anti-spam, anti-virus and web filtering technologies to secure the network with one system, which can replace legacy Firewall/VPN/IPS devices and outdated software. Dell had been offering the J-SRX appliance to larger customers since October of 2009, but is now extending them to bring network-level security to medium businesses. The base J-SRX Services Gateway starts at $645.
  • Endpoint Client Security Solutions. Dell acquired KACE, which provides management and deployment appliances, in February of this year. The Dell KACE K1000 management appliance helps secure endpoint devices through services such as patching, and helps IT managers to plan, execute and report on security compliance efforts in a mixed environment of Windows and Mac devices. The K1000 includes the recently announced Dell KACE Secure Browser (see my colleague Laurie McCabe’s recent post), which uses application virtualization to isolate activities in the Firefox browser to reduce Internet security risks.
  • Security Services. Dell has partnered with SecureWorks to provide a portfolio of security services. Functioning as an extension of a midsize company’s internal IT staff, SecureWorks provides daily security monitoring and management services to services to identify, prevent and remediate threats. These services can help businesses better assess their current level of security, meet regulatory compliance requirements, and reduce IT costs. The services will be available by the end of the year.


Implications for SMBs and Midsize Enterprises.

Dell is already a market leader in medium business for IT Infrastructure solutions, including servers, desktops and storage, according to IDC and Gartner. Furthermore, Dell has been providing Dell Managed Services — one of the industry’s most comprehensive managed IT services offerings to support heterogeneous IT environments for these customers–since 2009.

By augmenting Dell Managed Services first with the KACE acquisition, and now with these new security solutions and services in conjunction with Juniper and SecureWorks, Dell continues to expand its infrastructure portfolio for SMBs and midsize companies–underscoring its commitment to this space over the long haul.

Dell’s approach gives SMBs and midsize companies that want infrastructure solutions and services a one-stop shop for both on-premise and remote managed services, which should appeal to those companies that want a more streamlined solution approach, are looking to consolidate vendors and contracts, and want one throat to choke. However, Dell needs to present this larger vision and story to the SMB and midsize companies and educate them on the benefits of this approach; otherwise they will have a difficult time displacing the current managed security service vendors in these accounts.

September 27, 2009

Small Businesses interest in Social Media increasing rapidly

In a recent very small business (businesses with 10 employees or less), Social Media ranked at the top of the list among the tools used by small businesses to market/promote their business (see Figure 1). The use of all ‘Digital Media’ tools by SMB has seen a dramatic increase in the past 2 years at the at the expense of ‘traditional media’ tools. Many businesses are finding that marketing campaigns using traditional media tools are seeing reduced effectiveness in reaching their target audience. Consumers and businesses are placing less trust on information provided through traditional marketing vehicles, as those are mainly static tools supporting one-way conversations – other than word-of-mouth. The new digital media is changing the rules of marketing and even small businesses need to proactively participate in this change.

Figure 1photoshop-1

Why has social media seen this dramatic increase? This is primarily driven by 3 factors:

  • Change in the consumer and business workers personal communication environment and habits
  • Low barrier to start participating in the social media communications – tools like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress are free. Social media is much more than traditional forms of viral marketing – it is an effective and inexpensive way to convert contacts into a referral network
  • Much more real-time communication support to start conversations with existing customers and prospects

As the data shows, most small businesses are already participating in social media to varying degrees. Most of the social media adoption by small businesses is happening in an adhoc and sporadic manner. Majority of it is being driven by their use of of these social networking sites for personal communications. This use of social media in business today is more experimental, some to get a feel of the type of small businesses that are starting to participate in such communications and others to experiment with the type of conversations that are taking place and the type of communications they could have using this medium. As small businesses get more comfortable with these communications media over time, their importance in the marketing communications mix will increase. However, there are several issues that need to be resolved before they become mainstream communication tools for the small businesses. Some of them are:

  • Efficient and productive ways to monitor and participate in social media – small business do not have the time to individually monitor the various social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc. They need tools that can integrate with their existing business solutions to pull-in conversations that could have relevance to them. Some new solutions from vendors like will help small businesses harness the power of social media through solutions like Service Cloud, Salesforce Answers and Salesforce for Twitter and Ideas. New vendors that provide some solutions in this area include Lithium, Helpstream and Elgg.
  • Finding areas where social media can add value and provide business benefit – potential areas include product marketing and customer service
  • Integrating Social Media solutions with current marketing tools – Now that we know small businesses are interested in social media, it would be a good (for ISVs) to integrate social media interaction with your current marketing solutions like CRM, e-mail marketing, marketing automation, etc.
  • Customer sentiment monitoring – This is area small businesses can monitor conversations that are taking place about their products, brands and competition. Although this area today is primarily leveraged by larger consumer focused companies, over time this information can be leveraged by small businesses also.

To make this communication and collaboration effective and supportive of key business objectives, small businesses need to craft a social media strategy as part of a marketing plan to positively reinforce brand awareness and improve customer relationships.

Key elements to this plan should include:

  • Integrate social media into your current marketing plan, don’t abandon what is working to get on the social media band wagon
  • Find out where your target audience (existing customers and prospects) gathers online and learn how they are engaged. Start by asking your current customers where they are and then join in.
  • Match your audience to the social media tools they use – some people like Twitter other prefer Facebook or LinkedIn. Focus on relationship building.
  • Don’t limit yourself to most immediate “universe” of your target. Find people who touch your universe and engage them too.
  • Listen to what people are saying about you in the social media world
  • Use social media to drive traffic to your website
  • Develop plan to measure the success of your social media efforts (topic for another blog)

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