Technically Speaking, SMBs Struggle To Compete
December 9, 2013 Dan Burger
The inability to afford many of the new information technologies and lacking the skills to implement those they can afford is a tightening rope around the neck of many small to midsize companies. It certainly contributes to the lack of application modernization projects that are discussed in two other articles I’ve written in this issue.
Any organization, but especially the small to midsize organizations, looks at IT investments in terms of spending money to save money. That’s pretty much a universal business fact in these times of fast-paced IT evolution. For every operational efficiency promised, there needs to be a measurement of return on investment. When it’s not possible to identify actual savings in dollars and cents, there needs to be something equivalent in terms of improved profit or loss prevention.
Now more than ever “show me the money” is critical to the sales cycle. And you can include “show me the savings and show me or the efficiencies,” too. CEOs and CFOs can be hard-boiled when it comes to proof of purchase benefits. The CIOs and the CMOs (chief marketing officers, who are becoming important influencers in IT investments) are being required to make damn sure the IT buys they want so badly will actually pay off. And that’s where the technology survey comes into play–evidence on which to base decisions.
A recent survey of C-level executives and released by IBM indicates the increasing power of technology to alter traditional business practices through factors such as operational efficiencies such as document management, deeper analysis of customer and partner interactions, sharpened marketing strategies, and improved networks of collaboration.
Leading the list of survey findings are the need for improvements in digital strategies, social media planning, and return on investments in technology that is implemented.
IBM surveyed more than 300 midmarket C-Suite business executives worldwide on a variety of business issues, including the expanding role of customer engagement, organizational management, marketing and economic priorities, and future strategic growth plans.
The survey results were presented as supporting evidence that companies that have successfully new information technologies to achieve transformation were 26 percent more likely to outperform their rivals.
IBM, in a press release, stated its belief that “analytics, mobile, and cloud technologies allow small and midsize businesses to tap into the social channels of influential customers who have a deep interest in their products and services.”
Although other surveys indicate SMB organizations struggle to meet product marketing objectives, the lack of technological understanding, the time required to implement new technology, the investment required, and perhaps the greatest obstacle of all, complacency (perhaps masquerading as skepticism), stand in the way of improving marketing goals. Meanwhile, large enterprise competitors are planning and implementing technology strategies that provide the advantages that SMB marketing executives desire. It’s always been said that small companies are much more nimble than large companies and can more quickly implement change; however, the cost of doing so and the frequency of doing it are a huge factors in the current economy.
John Mason, general manager of IBM’s midmarket business, is quoted in the press release as saying, “Smaller companies which use their agility to place customers front and center in their ecosystem, embrace cloud, social and engagement marketing strategies could end up huge winners.”
For access to the complete “Customer-Activated” study, go to this IBM Web page.