Business Services: In-House or Outsourced?

Companies of all sizes seek out cost savings. When it comes to deciding what business services to outsource (which can present a significant savings), small businesses must take a measured approach. The reality of giving up control over a facet of one’s business can be difficult for some, but if it makes good business sense, outsourcing can be the right move to make. Some services are more likely candidates for outside support than others. Let’s take a look at what the small business space in the United States is doing for outsourcing.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing 

With any decision, particularly outsourcing, a weighing of the pros and cons must be taken up in order to determine if the correct move is being made. Personal preference plays a big part in the decision making process. Each business is unique and a thorough review should be conducted before reaching a verdict.

Outsourcing of Business Services

Pros

Cons

Frees up time for core competencies Loss of internal control
Access to subject matter experts Potential quality and accuracy concerns
Potential cost savings Time delays for customer support

The above table is not exhaustive of all the benefits and drawbacks. Rather, Continue reading “Business Services: In-House or Outsourced?”

Samsung: Removing Barriers

Some weeks at AMI are spent entirely in the office. We go about our business and interact with the outside world via conference calls, web meetings, and sometimes people even drop in to see us. Other weeks see AMI-ers out in the field, like when we traveled to hear from IBM in Las Vegas. This week presented a great opportunity to learn about the connected world a bit closer to home. Samsung launched its new flagship smartphones, the S8 and S8+, in addition to showcasing other devices, during UNPACKED2017, at Lincoln Center in NYC. The SMB space is always on the lookout for the latest tech, so let’s take a closer look.

Sharing Experiences

Samsung needed to deliver something special after the Note 7 battery issue and other setbacks last year. Leaving UNPACKED, where your intrepid blogger was asked to pose for a few pictures while holding a Galaxy branded bag (seriously, this happened), it appears Samsung is Continue reading “Samsung: Removing Barriers”

Global Model 2017

With the end of Q1 approaching, your intrepid blogger wanted to take some time out to give you an update on the Global Forecast Model that AMI uses to track everything from small business spending on IoT hardware in the UK to shipments of smartphones in Brazil. For brevity, we simply refer to it as the GM. Each year, the GM is updated to give actionable insights on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space.

Highlights

Aside from the SMB space, which is our primary focus, the GM also provides insights across the entire commercial spectrum as well as the public sector. Home Based Business (HBB), large enterprises (1,000+ employees), and the government and education sectors are analyzed to provide granular insights into the industry. As long as a person is involved, AMI tracks the business. Granted, once Skynet finally goes online, Continue reading “Global Model 2017”

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.

Spending

Smartphone and smartphone data plan spending are forecasted to have a 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”