IT suppliers should come out the closet over SME sector

Having worked for the press covering the IT channel and for the last few years being more end user focused, I couldn’t have avoided noticing a degree of snobbery in the supplies sector, when it come to the SME market.

The SME market is bigger as a whole than the corporate sector. It employs more people as a whole and actually spends more money on IT.

But traditionally the big service providers have avoided it because of its fragmented nature. But to escalate the problem suppliers that do have SME customers don’t always want to talk about it. They think they should talk about their big customers because it makes them look better. Journalists, like me, probably don’t help matters because we always want to write about the big deals with big corporates.

But a couple of meetings recently have made me think there could be a change on the horizon.

The first was with the UK head of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Lakshmi. He talked about a trial of an SME service in the cloud aimed at SMEs. This could come to the UK if successful. Providing package services in the cloud overcomes the costs associated with servicing a market made up of companies of all shapes, sizes and specialities, that are spread all over the place.

The second interview was with MindTree. This is a tier two Indian supplier that is not embarrassed to say it targets smaller customers or just parts of large contracts.

The chairman told me it only currently offers full service outsourcing to companies much smaller than itself or just parts of larger contracts with big companies.

Also I was with T-Systems recently and when talking about the public sector they were modest enough to say local authorities and not big central government departments were their target in the sector.

With the internet today small companies can receive software from offshore suppliers. In the past large suppliers had the luxury of dedicated pipes.

So when will we see true enterprise grade services in the SME? And when will the big suppliers get over their snobbery and talk about it.

I think the last recession will make suppliers put more value on the SME sector and invest more in their capabilities in this market.