IBM PartnerWorld 2017

Last week, AMI-Partners attended IBM’s PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, held at the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino. The trio AMI dispatched to the desert came back with new insights and information on how IBM is working with business partners to deliver solutions to customers of all sizes. On a less technical yet allegorical front, we also heard stories ranging from catching a cow to hitting an olive tree with a stick. Keep reading to the end for those accounts, but for now, a brief recap from our trip with highlights from a few breakout sessions.

Viva Las Vegas!

As we entered the opening general session, the lighting rigs were shining bright, the music (Elvis of course) was deafening, and the stage was set for speakers to address the crowd comprised of IBM business partners (more than 1,300 from 78 countries), IBM-ers from various units, the press, and analysts – some of whom very closely follow the SMB ICT space. IBM Chair, President, and CEO Ginni Rometty shared her vision for the future of cognitive business and how Watson will touch some 1 billion people by the end of this year. General Manager for Global Business Partners Marc Dupaquier shared highlights of the partner network and IBM announced several new initiatives to help promote success across all partners in what it dubs “The Cognitive Era”. Without the efforts of business partners, IBM is limited in getting its solutions to end users. The need to work with, nurture, and educate partners is critical to success, not only for Continue reading “IBM PartnerWorld 2017”

To Print, or not to Print?

Be honest: ever hit a printer, fax, or copier because it wasn’t working?

The decision to print at the typical SMB likely does not cause the mind to suffer. While a single printed sheet might not register on the balance sheet, numerous documents sent to print and equipment expenses can have a significant monetary impact on a small business. Managed Print Services (MPS) is a solution that some SMBs are adopting to better control printing expenses. The real question for SMBs then: To manage print, or not to manage print?

So, something else to buy…

Think of MPS as something else available to help address a lack of resources. An SMB has a limited headcount and must focus efforts on revenue generating paths. MPS is a suite of services offered by an outside party to administer a firm’s document output. The MPS provider Continue reading “To Print, or not to Print?”

DRaaS for SMBs?

A disaster may be unavoidable. Predicting misfortune isn’t an exact science. However, recovering from such an event can and should be planned well in advance. With the sizable amount of valuable data generated daily, the risk of losing this information becomes a going concern for businesses of all size. Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is becoming a viable option for the SMB space. Should it be?

What is DRaaS and is it contagious

DRaaS is a cloud based solution that allows for the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a 3rd party to provide data recovery in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe. This enables failover of virtual machines to secure cloud locations. The modern business climate is more likely to be disrupted by a human generated event than a natural one. Malicious attacks, honest user error, upgrade issues and a bad line of code can do just as much damage as a storm. As with most services accessed via the cloud, DRaaS is a pay as you need solution and is configured to operate in the background as it automatically performs backups of critical systems and data.  If your business needs ‘n’ TB of storage, you only need to pay for ‘n’ TB of storage. This flexibility allows SMBs to scale accordingly to match evolving business needs.

Solutions such asbut not limited to Microsoft Azure Site Recovery, Quorum onQ Hybrid Cloud Solution, Zetta Backup and Recovery, and Carbonite Server Backup all offer DRaaS to the SMB market. A careful evaluation of business Continue reading “DRaaS for SMBs?”

Skype for Business: Worth the price for SMBs?

Recently, AMI downloaded Skype for Business as some team members needed more than what the “freemium” version of the software could provide. The thing is, that version of Skype is free, “unless you want to buy credit to make calls to landlines and mobiles”, according to a company Help page. Skype, a division of Microsoft, which acquired the company in May 2011 for $8.5B, provides collaboration software that is used the world over. Text, voice, and video messages (not to mention the obligatory smiley face or dancing penguin emoji) can be shared with others in an instant. The subscription-based Business app has your intrepid blogger thinking if it makes sense for SMBs to pay each month for something they may have grown accustomed to using for free. Do SMBs need it?

Collaborate and Listen

SMBs, especially those at the far end of the small business spectrum with headcounts in the singles digits, aren’t exactly known for substantial positive cash flows and bottom lines that are always in the black. When purchases can be put off, they are shelved until absolutely necessary. However, when it comes to purchase decisions, the pros and cons must be considered to determine if there will be a value-add beyond the sticker price.

Who uses Collaboration Software?

When it comes to SMBs, Continue reading “Skype for Business: Worth the price for SMBs?”

2017: An SMB Odyssey

Happy New Year! The start of a new year often brings reflections on the past and forecasts for the future. Resolutions and changes abound but are often discarded before the calendar turns to February. Hopefully you’ve noticed the new layout for our blog and AMI-Partners assures you it will not change back come Groundhog Day.

Keep on Writin’…

Moving forward, we will do our best to post regular updates, to keep the writing style as informal and conversational as the subject matter permits, and to offer more in the way of knowledge sharing as we strive to enhance our reputation as a leader in the SMB ICT space. Our work helps leading organizations to better understand the small and medium business landscape. We believe this Continue reading “2017: An SMB Odyssey”

SMBs Stocking up on Smartphones?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Shopping ramps up in December as deals and discounts are pushed to increase year-end sales in conjunction with the holidays. Tech has become a major focus of such spending. From Black Friday sales on televisions to month-long promotions to switch mobile plans, the incentive to spend is ever present, much like lights on a tree. The SMB market buys tech year round and as the mobility of business increases, the need for mobile options will rise. Special deals can spur additional year end purchases.

Smartphones are Everywhere

AMI’s US Small & Medium Business ICT & Cloud Services Overview report shows smartphone penetration is nearing saturation for medium sized businesses. However, 97% of said businesses plan on adding smartphones to their organization in the coming year. This reflects the growing need not only to utilize smartphones, but to regularly upgrade that technology. This increase in product acquisition also presents the need to acquire additional data/voice service plans.


Smartphone and smartphone data plan spending are forecasted to havea 9% and 8% CAGR to 2020, respectively, according to AMI’s Global Forecast Model. With service plan spending outpacing physical phone spending by a margin of Continue reading “SMBs Stocking up on Smartphones?”

SMBs, Tech, and Government

SMBs, Tech, and Government

Part 1

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 is the date set for the aptly named “Trump Tech Summit” in New York City. The President-Elect of the United States is scheduled to meet with industry leaders to discuss matters including but not limited to jobs, manufacturing, automation, and repatriation of funds earned overseas. On the surface, this might not seem to have a direct link to the SMB space, but the aftereffects of such a gathering can have a lasting impact on small and medium sized businesses.

Spending in the US

SMBs in the US spend a great deal on technology each year to help achieve business goals. According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, that figure currently stands at Continue reading “SMBs, Tech, and Government”

SAP SME Summit: Highlights and Insights

SAP Provided its Annual SME Update on November 17, 2016 – Key Highlights Included the Following:

  • SAP now has over 250,000+ SME customers worldwide
  • 13,000 new SME were customers added in 1H2016, a 5%+ increase over 2015 installed base
  • 2015 cloud subscriptions and support grew by 82% to $2.3B (SME + other segments)
  • ByD positioning as SAP’s SME cloud offering is also tightly aligned with matching sales motion – partner + e-center led, and appropriately incentivized to focus on SMEs only
  • SME customers have a choice of consumption models – cloud vs. on-prem – between SAP’s portfolio of All-in-One (on-prem), ByD (Cloud), Business One (Cloud and on-prem), and Anywhere (cloud CRM, inventory, mobile, and e-commerce)
  • SAP Digital allows customers to buy online with SAP Anywhere being the key SME product in this category – this selling motion was launched in 2015 and continues to be fortified
  • Referral option added to PartnerEdge Cloud Choice program to expand SAP’s partner coverage

SME and SAP Performance During 2015-16

  • By most measures SAP is performing well in the SME space. A growth of 5% in the installed base within a 6-month period is impressive, given that our internal SME tracking models show the total SME ERP/CRM/HR installed base growing at about 5-6% Y/Y.
  • AMI typically defines SMEs as commercially located firms with 1-1000 employees. When defined as such, we estimate between 5.5 – 5.8 million firms were using ERP/CRM/HR in 2015. This is out of an estimated WW total of 75M SMEs. In other words, WW ERP/CRM/HR penetration is in the 7-8% range in the SME market.
  • When considering firms with 10-1,000 employees, that number drops to between 3-3.3 million firms – micro-businesses being a large chunk of all firms. Corresponding WW ERP/CRM/HR penetration rises to ~25% when micro-businesses are eliminated.
  • Depending on which of these definitions is selected, SAP’s share of the WW ERP/CRM/HR customer base may vary between 4%-8% at a WW level, using 250,000 as the base of SAP SME customers.

Key SME Trends and Concerns

SMEs are solving for 3 big business issues: Continue reading “SAP SME Summit: Highlights and Insights”

Social Media Marketing

AMI’s Global Forecast Model shows that social media marketing spending by the SMB space in the US will see a CAGR of 24% to 2020. This impressive growth is a clear sign that social media sites are being leveraged by SMBs to reach potential and existing customers. Who are the leaders in this field? Why are SMBs migrating to social sites?

According to Statista, an online statistics portal, 61% of marketers advertise at least monthly on Facebook. More than 20% of marketers advertise on Twitter, Instagram (owned by Facebook), and LinkedIn respectively with similar frequency. Pinterest and Snapchat both attract less than 10% of said marketers monthly. Let’s take a closer look at the market leader, Facebook, along with some aspects of social media marketing.

Daily Active Users

Facebook reported 1.04B daily active users (DAU) on average in December 2015. That is more than 3x the total estimated population of the United States. Of the 1 billion plus DAUs, some 934M accessed Facebook via a mobile device in the same time span. Clearly portable devices have surpassed the desktop computer as the preferred method of accessing social media. Figures were only reported for a combined US and Canadian market, but that number of DAUs stood at 169M in North America. These figures show Continue reading “Social Media Marketing”

Payroll Software-as-a-Service

We all like to be compensated for our work. Whether it be the new normal of direct deposit, the antiquated live check, or the somewhat controversial pay card (No one is [legally] paid in cash anymore, are they?), payday is a date we circle on the calendar. Companies have the option of outsourcing payroll or keeping it in house. Software can be on-premise or subscribed to as a service. AMI’s research shows the SaaS option is growing but on-premise solutions are still used in a of SMBs. Let’s take a look at the SaaS option and see if the cloud makes sense for payroll in the SMB space.

According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, SMB spending in the US on Payroll software-as-a-service will have a CAGR of 13% through 2020. While double digit growth is nothing to dismiss lightly, other SaaS categories are approaching a 30% CAGR over the same time span. Overall, SMB SaaS spending in the US will have Continue reading “Payroll Software-as-a-Service”