Services for SMBs will be transformed

Analyst firm IDC indicates that in 2008, services and telecommunications will transform Australian small and medium sized businesses.

The poor cousins of the big end of town have struggled to find adequate ICT products and services but this is all about to change reports analyst company IDC.

IDC finds that beyond 2008 Australian small and medium businesses (SMBs) will undergo a deep transformation. Driving this will be the supply side services and telecommunications providers that are finally starting to design products targeted to SMBs.

The findings arise from IDC's 10 predictions for this year in the Australian SMB market. "A lack of adequate offerings, especially on the services side of ICT markets has restrained SMBs from embracing technology," says Jean-Marc Annonier, research manager for small and medium business markets at IDC Australia.

"This situation is on the verge of changing with the evolution of tier two service providers that understand the needs of SMBs a lot better. Complementing this is an increase in the availability of fast broadband internet connections enabling a range of services to be delivered remotely with quite satisfactory levels of performance," adds Annonier.

IDC's study presents the top 10 predictions for Australian SMBs for 2008. These are drawn from primary and secondary research conducted throughout 2007, including all areas of hardware, software, services and telecommunications as well as an IDC insight into Australian vendors' SMB strategies.

IDC's top 10 predictions for the SMB market follow:

  1. Core IT functions will be increasingly hosted by service providers.

  2. Managed services providers will offer adequate IT outsourcing services.

  3. Consolidation and virtualisation will simplify the server room, which will tend to host relatively basic storage and remote access services.

  4. Voice communications will be IP based, increasingly driven by software towards a ubiquitous unified communications model. The traditional PBX is doomed.

  5. Software as a service (SaaS) will become mainstream and incorporate an increasing number of applications.

  6. The traditional office environment will not change significantly, but will continue its trends towards greater mobility and convenience.

  7. Telecommuters and the mobile workforce will benefit dramatically from progress in fixed and wireless broadband speed.

  8. Infrastructure in branch offices will be reduced to a minimum as server-based computing will become the platform of choice for branches.

  9. Business between third parties will be conducted predominately by electronic transactions.

  10. Change will be driven by the availability of faster broadband internet connections which will see SMBs become increasingly network centric.

The IDC study also found that:

  1. Vendors should engage SMBs at every stage of technology use. Small firms have the greatest technology needs, the lowest spending levels and the lowest brand loyalty. Technology providers that can offer access to affordable resources which will enable companies to succeed and grow will have an advantage over providers waiting for start-ups to reach a critical size or spending level before they engage.

  2. Telecommunications companies will be the centre of attention. Telecommunications companies have a unique opportunity to be the provider for many, or all of the new and emerging services that will be adopted by SMBs of tomorrow. Telecommunications companies need to leverage their existing access to SMBs, not only to offer data and voice bundles but also to act as a channel to resell services such as managed services, remote backup, hosted applications or SaaS.

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