SMB continues to be the most challenging and diverse part of Australia’s corporate spectrum to service. ARN pulled together a panel of industry representatives to discuss how to position security solutions successfully to 5-499 seat organisations in today’s economic climate. This roundtable was held in conjunction with Symantec.
Nadia Cameron, ARN (NC): What is the state of IT in SMBs today?
Sean Murphy, Nexus (SM): It’s very patchy and it depends on what part of the market you’re focusing on. SMB isn’t characterised by anything except seat count, especially by vendors. And that doesn’t say much about a business – they could be young, old, designers or accountants. I think generally the spend has gone down and security, in particular, is difficult because you don’t have the productivity, collaboration and ROI – they’re not leaping at it. But at the same time, I don’t think SMBs are doing as badly as the press would have it. People keep their money in their pocket, but if you have a good story and can advise them that it’s the right thing to do, I think you can generally get a sensible business owner, which you get better access to in SMB, to get to the right decision.
Conrad Hilder, PK Business Advantage (CH): When it comes to SMB, I do agree that it isn’t really characterised by a particular style, but what we do tend to face today is more resistance. In this space [security], it’s size and scale, although the products are getting better for SMBs and are far more value for money over time. You’re also getting those business owners who are finding it difficult to make a choice. In SMB, you are quite often dealing with the business owner, so really they’re looking to make their choices and unfortunately looking too much at PC-based magazines and asking their sons and daughters for help. These are some of the hurdles we face when trying to penetrate the SMB market that weren’t there 12 months ago.
NC: Is the economic downturn having much of an effect on how you sell into SMB?
Jamie Warner, E-Nerds (JW): We’ve still been growing over this period, and from a sales point of view, we haven’t seen many changes. How you articulate to these businesses about their security and overall IT requirements doesn’t change. You generally need to outline the issues to a business and how that impacts on things like business continuity and what issues can surround those problems you identify that haven’t been resolved. And then it’s talking about solutions for that space. With security, our communication about antivirus, antispam, disaster recovery, the managing of gateways in networks – it’s still the same communication, but you might want to gear it to business continuity angles, especially when budgets are tight.