A new Dell program is highlighting the conditions many entrepreneurial SMBs face in the market and some of the opportunities for IT organisations to engage with those customers.
The global Take Your Own Path campaign runs through traditional channels, as well as social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The campaign features five customers of Dell – Task Retail, Sew What? Masternaut Three X, Lonely Planet and LinkedIn. These companies share a common thread in that they have all grown from very modest bases.
The purpose of the campaign is to highlight their success stories (and from Dell’s perspective, the ability for technology to aid in the successful growth trajectory of a startup).
Sydney-based Task Retail, for instance, began life in the garage of managing director, Kym Houden. It now exports POS solutions into the US, is in the processes of building a presence in Singapore, and enjoys a position as an innovator in the retail space.
With 26 staff, Task Retail has to compete against multi-billion dollar competitors, but that has been mitigated through partnerships with major companies such as IBM, and a willingness to avoid incumbent technology has given it an agility that has become a real competitive advantage, Houden claimed.
That agility is a huge benefit that SMBs in general can leverage to compete, and almost a necessity if the space includes a large incumbent.
“It was a conscious decision to take the latest technology and start with a fresh slate,” Houden said.
Task Retail is a company that has grown organically and is 100 per cent family based.
Houden said it was simply not in a space that made acquisitions an option.
“There’s no point in us buying old technologies,” he said. “A lot of the time when acquisitions occur, it becomes a case of technology being bolted onto older technology.
Task Retail’s flagship solution is xchangexec, a software platform – a broad suite of products that handle everything from reporting through to loyalty programs.
By contrast, Masternaut Three X is a company that grew through acquisition, until it was acquired by Aéroports de Paris last year.
“The biggest challenge is to grow with confidence,” Masternaut Three X managing director, Martin Port, said.
“As we grew we needed a very robust infrastructure to support us.”
This is where Dell came in – providing a solution that would support the company’s growth plan for five years.
The UK-based logistics solution provider then proceeded to make its own acquisitions – three in total, starting with GE Three X mobile solutions in 2006.
Port admitted entrepreneurial SMBs that are in a position to make acquisitions, can find the process difficult.
“Buying from GE was a good experience for me, because we bought a very high quality business,” he said. “It was my first acquisition, and I didn’t realise that I would need lawyers and accountants and the like.”
Finally, Dell is using Sew What? as an example on how an organistion with no IT capabilities whatsoever can make use of a partnership to realise its growth ambitions.
Founded by Megan Duckett, and based in Rancho Dominguez, California, Sew What? provides drapes and props for theatre productions and rock concerns.
“It wasn’t until I lost a big contract because I didn’t have a website that I realised the value of IT,” Duckett said.
“We still don’t have an IT person in our staff; however I have set up an IT budget to work with Dell. It’s a full partnership, and if something goes wrong, I just have to make one call.”
“When you’re working 24/7, like most small businesses, having a one stop shop is of integral importance.”
For organisations looking to engage with SMBs, it’s important to understand they type of business they run, but provided you can do that, there will be numerous opportunities to engage with, and sell into those customers.
“Dell brought a LifeSize solution to us,” Duckett said.
Selling cloth from static photos is very difficult, so a videoconferencing solution helped Duckett with her business immensely, she said.