How channel businesses can meet evolving SME software needs

Stuart Wilson, CEO at SAP partner Ascarii, talks about how he set up his channel business to meet the needs of SME customers

With the increase in availability of and demand for cloud-based services, the traditionally on-premise world of business software is undergoing massive change, and is no longer the sole domain of big businesses able to stump up enough cash to meet the capital expenditure costs upfront.

As operating costs tumble and new ways of delivering and consuming services come to the fore, businesses need to support these changes without losing functionality.

Starting up business at the start of 2013, Ascarii is taking full advantage of this trend, offering pure cloud services to new markets through new models.

In the year prior to launch, we invested heavily in research conducted among SME business owners and financial directors, and uncovered evidence that services with upfront costs were quite simply not an option for SMEs, with most saying they would prefer to pay in installments through a financing scheme.

Conducting the research immediately gave us a competitive advantage as it meant understanding how SMEs in the current marketplace prefer to operate: they want to streamline and predict cashflow.

For Ascarii, this was the ultimate trigger for change. Still in the first few months of trading, we have experienced huge demand from across different industries, and especially from those micro and small businesses of one to 30 employees.

The difference in cost structure has been critical to opening up this market, but the focus for us is on demonstrating the value the product can bring to businesses. For Ascarii this is the full capability of SAP Business One.

These are our top tips for evolving to meet SME needs.

Modernise your business model

SMEs want one product and one price. Whilst historically separate prices were provided for the solution, installation, training and maintenance, SMEs today want an all-inclusive package. In the current climate, uncertainty of costs is not an option for business owners and as such, adapting your business model to meet these demands is crucial.

Think growth

Today’s businesses don’t have time to stand still, constantly striving to innovate in order to keep ahead of competitors and stamp their mark on the industry. Choosing to sell solutions that allow SMEs to think bigger and grow faster, but whilst remaining sustainable is key.

Understand your market

Historically, many businesses were reluctant to adopt cloud due to security woes and fear of moving data ‘out of their control’. However, this is no longer the case as SMEs have become increasingly accepting of the cloud model and are now more responsive to the benefits this modern technology can bring to business. More importantly, as the average age of the workforce continues to decrease, having technology such as cloud at your fingertips is going to become increasingly expected.

Find a competitive differentiator

It’s no secret that innovative technologies such as the cloud have brought an influx of vendors offering different solutions to different markets. Therefore, it’s important to find a competitive differentiator at the outset to ensure you are the vendor of choice. You must demonstrate that not only can you offer a sophisticated service but that you are trustworthy, reliable and affordable.

Cloud is no-longer just about access and affordability. It is about creating a tailored offering for a fraction of previous costs and having a real impact on the way that businesses are formed and mature. For the channel this means new opportunity and a new market.

Stuart Wilson is CEO at Ascarii

Read more on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Applications

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