It might be coming something of a cliché but the adage 'small business means big bucks' has been reinforced by an IDC report released last week.
However the problem remains that the IT industry is still largely ignorant of what SME's want and how the industry can make money from small business.
Commenting on the performance of IT suppliers in the small business arena Gianco Melcarne, market analyst with IDC Australia claims "nearly 40 per cent of respondents were seriously dissatisfied".
That equals a lot of missed opportunities for resellers, with 41 per cent of small businesses expecting to increase overall IT spending in 1999 by up to 22 per cent.
Hardware still remains firmly entrenched in the small businesses IT portfolio, with 43 per cent of external spending allocated to it. Software spending is next on the list, accounting for 24 per cent of total SME's IT expenditure. 19 per cent of spending goes towards services, with Melcarne predicting this figure will rise to 22 per cent this year.
Small businesses are also following general market trends with 87 per cent predicting they will have a Web page by the year 2000. "When we looked at the use of the company's Web site we found that 79 per cent of organisations used their sites to promote detailed product information and 63 per cent used their home page to provide customer service and support. Only 9 per cent were conducting sales transactions from their sites," said Melcarne.
So what can the reseller do to tap into this potentially lucrative and expanding marketplace? According to Melcarne, small businesses are looking for quality of service, technical expertise, speed of delivery, transfer of knowledge and skills, and low prices.