Recently, I attended the Small Business Summit hosted in Times Square, New York. The catchphrase of the summit was ‘Technology: Its time to reinvent your business’
The key note speaker was Karen Quintos of Dell Inc, VP of Marketing , Small and Medium Business and in a superb presentation she put up some very interesting stats. Globally, 7 users connect to the Internet for the first time every second which is 500,000 users a day and around 180 Million a year, its a phenomenal rate, places like China,Brazil and India are significant contributors to this figure.
(BTW, Dell considers SMB to be 1 to 500 employees, but they further divide that up into 1-20 employees, 20 to 100 and 100 to 500 marketing groups).
She also discussed in detail how her approach to marketing to SMB’s was driven by the more than significant shift from traditional marketing channels to new media. Her research figures show that below the age of 35 mark,
consumers and business owners are unsurprisingly now more influenced by Web 2.0 type marketing rather than traditional advertising and word of mouth. The phrase she used to describe this was “Word of Mouse”, more people under age 35 are making purchasing decisions based upon blogs, social networking, internet searching and forums than any other means.
Another interesting point by Karen, What is the number one problem that Dell has encountered with small business?… Data Security and backups, which leads to the common theme of this summit. The repeated call from various speakers for Small Business to outsource business functions that needed to be outsourced. When you don’t have the skill sets or budget inhouse to setup and support a function, allow experts to do manage it for you.
Is it me or does this all point to SaaS being the answer? It sounds to me that the Small and Medium Business market is ripe for a big SaaS adoption push in 2008 and 09, not only are business problems resolved by SaaS but the entrepreneurs of the younger generation are mentally ready for this. This isn’t a just speculation, the market research trends indicate this and the expert speakers at this summit were unanimous in their recommendations for utilizing technology to “reinvent your business”.
Not only is this encouraging for Saas vendors, but it points the way to how you should market your products to small business, utilize the network effects of new media.