I’m in a Crabby mood tonight. Mind you this is just after having a presentation on Microsoft BPOS where Amy Babinchak of www.thirdtier.net said that if you don’t get on the cloud bandwagon and start looking at this stuff, your competitor will. So you’d better sign up as a BPOS partner or else be left behind. She’s right. For all the hype and hoopla, we’re all going to be moving to a hybrid model where some of our business will be here, some over there, some hovering between, some all over the place. And you need to be ready to help that small business owner because there’s still an element of a small business that needs someone to deal with this, to find the right fit, to find the business flow solution for their needs. As someone said the other day, you won’t be selling servers anymore, you will be fitting a solution to the business need.
Read this article… and there’s some lines in there that just struck me as odd. Granted the writer could have taken them out of context or have totally misquoted the people he interviewed, or maybe gotten the comments from some blog and not even interviewed them at all. But there were some comments that just struck me as a bit odd bringing out the Crabby blogger in me tonight. And mind you, I’m speaking as a Small Business Owner. One who has had a small business server solution from Microsoft since about the year 2000 in my office. Or maybe since 1998. Bottom line way way too long ago. And certainly long enough ago that when I was looking to upgrade/migrate from SBS 4.5 to SBS 2000 I was told by the Microsoft partners I interviewed that my firm “would outgrow the platform of SBS so we don’t recommend it”. Well here we are in 2010 and I’m honestly not sure the firms I interviewed with back then are still in business today.
So here’s some comments that caught my crabby blogger eye tonight….
IBM, Microsoft court SMBs with cloud, appliances:
At least two major vendors, IBM and Microsoft, are starting to focus on the SMB market with their latest offerings.
[Crabby blogger comment:] Okay .. starting to focus… okay so what have they been doing for the last 10 years in the SMB market? Being unfocused or something? 🙂
Microsoft views SMBs as one of the largest untapped markets for the company
[Crabby blogger comment:] With all due respect, since the year 2000 I’ve heard similar statements from Microsoft. What’s new now? Microsoft is ALWAYS seeing this marketplace as some vast wasteland of untapped income stream that may or may not materialize. 2007 we were underserved then too. What’s changed? And in this interesting ZDnet post, the author makes the point that Microsoft historically isn’t making money in their online divisions.
Microsoft estimates that there are over 150 million SMBs in the world, only 10 million of which use IT in any but the most rudimentary way.
[Crabby blogger comment:] And you know what… sometimes I think there are 140 million SMBs that just need a cash register, an iphone and not too much else. I walk into a lot of businesses that even hosted SharePoint is asking too much and pushing the envelope of technology too far. Sometimes you have to work with the workflow of the firm and devise a solution and not push down a technology that may not work. Sometimes it’s a mere online sync of data. Sometimes it’s just nothing more than plain email. Sometimes you need to step back and not sell the solution but listen to the needs and develop the right solution.
“A lot of these businesses really are underserved,” Steen said, noting that this segment is looking for relatively low-cost options that are easy to maintain. “We want to bring [Microsoft software] to them in an affordable way,” by using cloud computing.
Cloud computing offers previously unavailable advantages to small businesses, Steen said. Typically, SMBs have had to settle for stripped-down versions of enterprise software from the large vendors, or software from lesser-known smaller providers. In either case, the software could be more troublesome to maintain, compared to the software enjoyed by companies with larger IT budgets. So, cloud computing allows smaller companies to benefit from “enterprise scale” in terms of features and reliability. It also allows organizations to cut capital expenditures for new equipment, which can prove to be a costly and unnecessary expense should business decline.
[Crabby blogger comment:] Okay… so …hmm Microsoft are you saying that you yourself have been underserving this area because when you say that SMBs have had to “settle for stripped down version of enterprise software from the large vendors”, the only large vendor with so called stripped down versions of enterprise software that I’m aware of is the offerings from Microsoft. So did the guy from Microsoft really say those words or is that the author saying that? And honestly I never felt they were stripped down versions. When I stand up the full verisons of the software I’m typically amazed regarding two things… firstly sometimes the things they don’t natively include and secondly sometimes the amount of wizards that the Enterprise software now has.
Didn’t you just diss yourself and the solutions you’ve been providing to the SMB marketplace for 10 years? I don’t agree that cloud computing is bringing previously unavailable advantages to small businesses. What I think it’s bringing to the table is that it’s in a platform less likely to be screwed up. But to be fair, the bulk of the software that he’s complaining as being troublesome to maintain, is software from his very own company. The capital expenses you are referring to are the very software licenses we’ve bought over the years.
It should be worth noting that IBM, like Microsoft, also offers many office collaboration services as a cloud service as well, through LotusLive. Likewise, Microsoft continues to offer the Windows Small Business Server (SBS) package for midsized businesses that want in-house equipment.
[Crabby blogger comment:] And since when did Small Business Server move to a “midsized” business solution? 🙂 I’m guessing that’s not a quote from anyone at either IBM or MIcrosoft.
So do me a favor and sign up for the Microsoft BPOS partner program – https://partner.microsoft.com/US/40066434 As Amy says it’s fitting her small small client base and giving her options and solutions for a range of clientele.
But just do me…and the crabby blogger that I am tonight… a favor and don’t diss SBS and call it stripped down versions of Enterprise software when you go out and start selling cloud services will ya? For enough folk out here it’s been the backbone of our businesses and provided us with the tools for our business.