Tag: SMBs

SMEs held back by poor networks

whiffyA survey said that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are worried about poor networking and security.

The survey, commissioned by Netgear which has something of an axe to grind, chose 500 companies with between one and 250 employees showed the SMEs’ concerns.

Three quarters of the firms said having a wireless network is essential to their business.  That figure rises to 84 percent for firms hiring more than 100 people.

A large number rely on wireless networks with 74 percent saying it makes the company more productive, and 75 percent saying it improves customer services.

But one in three firms surveyed said they had struggled to install an effective and secure wireless service.

And 31 percent thought about dropping all their IT wireless plans after they’d had bad experience with quality and reliability. A third worried about data security while a quarter weren’t sure how to introduce wi-fi into existing IT infrastructure.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 comes to pass

microsoft-in-chinaSoftware supremo Microsoft said it has made available a product which it claims will help small to medium sized businesses (SMBs)  grow their revenues.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is business management software and is now optimised for mobile and for cloud, the company claimed.

Features include tablet and touch features that let SMBs access data from any place or  on devices that include apps from Apple, Google and Microsoft app stores.

There’s a simplified way of designing invoices that syncs with Microsoft Word. Microsoft says that allows people to create their own customised invoice templates.

It also has new capabilities for electronic payments and account reconciliation.

Balabit box offers security superguard

praetorianHungarian security company Balabit showed off its Shell Control Box (SCB) at a press gig this  week.

This is a clever gizmo which sits between a data centre and people accessing the data which has an active alert function and which can reconstruct changes people have made to systems as well as preclude certain users from doing different things.

Gabor Marosvari, product marketing manager at Balabit, showed data that demonstrated that 88 percent of internal problems and caused by abuse of privileges,  and 71 percent of all misuses are made using LANs, with 21 percent of those using remote access.

Firewalls, security information and event management (SIEMs) and password managers aren’t enough to protect systems, Balabit claims.  Balabit’s SCB, however, controls privileged user access to remote servers, heads off malicious actions at the gorge, records activities and reports actions for compliance and decision support, it claims. If an intrusion happens, the system can be set up to email the god or goddess that runs the SCB system, and to text them too, if required. It supports the following protocols.

scb

Balabit also claims that it has little competition in the sector. Wallix, CyberARK, Xceedium and Dell Quest use jump hosts; Observe-IT, Centrify and TSFactory are agent based, while Intellinx is a network sniffer.

Balabit, which received an £8 million series A funding from C5 last week, targets banks, central government, telcos, cloud and MSPs, big manufacturers, large enterprises and enterprises using outsourcing.  It doesn’t have any offerings for SMBs, and the cheapest implementation is likely to cost in excess of $10,000. Customers include Raiffeisen, Orange, Telenor, Handelsbanken and Ankara University.

Of course, the big question is that it will be one or two superusers, such as auditors, that has access to the device that monitors an entire enterprise.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – who will guard the guards themselves? Because she, he, or they are humans too, subject to the emotions, passions, greed and chicanery that affects all of our species.

Avnet in EMC push

Avnet's Lee BushnellDistributor Avnet said it has introduced a programme called Altitude aimed at small and medium sized businesses.

The programme promotes EMC storage and back up devices and aims to help its resellers offer VNXe storage and Data Domain backup products.

The scheme centres around an online configuration tool that lets resellers calculate price for the EMC products without needing to contact Avnet.  Using a secure portal, the configurator is available at all times.

Lee Bushnell, EMC business manager at Avnet UK (pictured), said that the programme will help resellers to secure lucrative revenue streams with attractive pricing.

Resellers can avail themselves of training on the portal along with sales information, data sheets and product training.

Canon offers SMB benefits

canonMFPCanon Europe said that its imageRUNNER2400 series will bring its partners some cool profit benefits.

The multifunctional printer (MFP) is network ready and Francis Thornhill, Canon’s European and UK product manager, said that the devices helps it partners to address challenges of small workgroups.

The device lets Canon partners secure revenues after sales, he said – partners’ contact details are left on the device for end users to re-order consumables and the unit has a triple backed up counter so that bill printing costs can be tracked properly.

The device will be available in March.

Cloud can yield SMBs 30% savings

Lisette Sens, ZynstraThe channel is being forced to rethink the landscape because of the pervasiveness of cloud computing.

But there are ways for resellers to make margins through cloud offerings, despite the preponderance of services that are available.

That’s according to Lisette Sens, head of channel at Zynstra. She was appointed to the role last week with the remit to sell products through the supply chain.

Sens said one way to attract businesses was through resellers educating SMBs about the benefits of cloud offerings. SMBs can save as much as 30%, she said, implementing desktop enterprise systems.

“This market is growing and should be taken seriously,” she told ChannelEye. “The SMB market is looking for trusted providers. We have done trials in the market and we’re working with Easynet.”

She said reselllers need to find their place in this changing landscape in order to maximise their margins.

“We want to show the SMB world that we really understand them and work with the channel to deliver,” she said.

Half of businesses have no integrated digital strategy

ibm-officeA survey conducted by IBM has shown that half of  decision making executives at SMBs don’t have an integrated digital strategy.

But to be fair, 65 percent of them know that not having social media strategy is a huge barrier.  And over half of  them don’t really understand how to position social media in their businesses.

The key points of interest are digitising front offices, analysing data from customer interactions on social channels and seeing future trends.

IBM believes that companies that have fused their digital and physical operations together using big data, mobile and cloud are 26 percent more likely to outperform their competitors.

Naturally, IBM has an axe to grind here – it wants to sell its own products to make sure it outperforms its competitors too.

Smaller outfits miss out on m-commerce

SmartphonesA research report released by TransFirst and ControlScan has found that small merchants need to step up their game in m-commerce and optimise their websites for mobile. Otherwise they might be missing out on some serious dosh.

The survey, called Small Merchants and Mobile Payments: 2013 Survey on Technology Awareness and Adoption, found that a staggering 82 percent of e-commerce merchants don’t even know whether a purchase on their website came from a mobile device or a PC.

This is a rather alarming figure, since data from those that do distinguish between PC and mobile shoppers indicates that mobile visitors account for a significant portion of online sales, and mobile is growing fast. A survey conducted last year found that 10 percent of respondents used tablets and smartphones to accept credit card payments, but the figure has shot up to 17 percent in less than a year’s time.

Another key finding of the survey shows 49 percent of e-commerce merchants know their websites are not currently optimised for mobile devices and an additional 17 percent say they don’t know or are unsure about their site’s current status. This indicates that as many as two thirds of these merchants may be putting up roadblocks to the growing number of mobile consumers.

“The mobile consumer is knocking at the small merchant’s door,” said Craig Tieken, Director of Product at TransFirst. “Business owners who aren’t already up to speed with mobile payment acceptance need to have a viable plan of action to get there.”

Dave Abouchar, Senior Director of Product Management for ControlScan, said the survey shows that small merchants have a real business need to adopt mobile trends. He stressed that now is the time to embrace the new trends if they don’t want to miss out.

SMBs throw cash about

google-walletSmall and medium businesses are hiring dedicated e-commerce specialists in ever growing numbers.

According to a report from Freelancer.co.uk, SMBs are realizing that they need to offer safe and convenient online services, on par with the big boys. The number of businesses hiring e-commerce experts has gone up 19 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Freelancer spokesman Matt Barrie stressed that the high street is already facing major problems due to the e-commerce boom. He warned that plenty of major retailers have already seen their businesses disintegrate because they lacked a good online presence. Smaller outfits seem to have learned their lesson, so they are investing in e-commerce in the hope of not becoming the next Jessops or HMV.

Barrie believes that even the biggest high street players could see their businesses go down the drain if they fail to embrace online shopping. It could be good news for smaller companies, as e-commerce could level the playing field and allow them to compete with bigger outfits, without much overhead. The web allows small companies to offer their goods and services to a much larger audience, so it could be used to their advantage. 

Another aspect of the e-commerce revolution involves niche markets. Although they are diluted across the country, geography simply isn’t a limiting factor in e-commerce, which means that even tiny companies can cater to the entire niche market.

“Retail outlets are proving incapable of adjusting to a consumer base no longer geographically captive. E-commerce is dominating the consumer retail landscape,” said Barrie. “It’s no surprise that big name retailers that haven’t kept up with the online shopping revolution are increasingly going bankrupt. These high street dinosaurs are unwilling to compete, and so will soon be consigned to retail history.”

Big retail chains have all but monopolized the high street in recent years, but it seems e-commerce has the potential to reverse the trend and put independent retailers back on the map.