Intelligent Tech Channels Issue 43 | Page 24


Part of the Lynchpin Media team , Manda Banda has more than 20 years of experience working for channel publications . He shares the knowledge he has learnt during that time in this monthly column for Intelligent Tech Channels .

Serving the booming SMB networking market

Manda Banda , Deputy Managing Editor , Lynchpin Media
Channel partners focusing on SOHO and SMB networking market can increase their visibility with potential customers by providing end-to-end networking solutions and services .
Manda Banda is Lynchpin Media ’ s Deputy Managing Editor and Editor of Intelligent CIO Middle East and Intelligent CIO Africa .

Offering small office home office ( SOHO ) and SMB networking services and solutions can be lucrative for many reasons . For one , SOHO and SMB customers are often the earliest adopters of new technology because it ’ s much easier to change a 1 to 10-seat company ’ s networking needs than it is to change a 2,000-seat enterprise ’ s networking infrastructure . It ’ s also easier for SOHOs and SMBs to make purchasing decisions , whereas with enterprises , decisions can take months . And with more and more people going into business for themselves , there is never a shortage of customers in this segment .

As the supply and demand for network and security tools increases for SMBs in the Middle East and Africa ( MEA ), so do the options for SMB network appliances and services .
Analyst IDC is forecasting a compound annual growth rate ( CAGR ) of 4.7 % for the 2016 to 2021 forecast period , spending by businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees on IT hardware , software and services , including business services , is expected to reach $ 684 billion on in 2021 .
Clearly , SMBs around MEA are increasingly interested in investing in resources to improve employee productivity and improve their competitive positions . While SMBs , especially smaller ones , have immediate tactical needs to sharpen performance , they are also looking to coordinate resources in a meaningful way . For many this is an important step in their Digital Transformation ( DX ).
Aside from that , the SMB market is the
most focused sector by all vendors as it
plays a key role across all architectures .
Small and mid size business contribute
almost more than 60 % of economic growth
in the MEA region alone .
Given a weak global economic outlook
caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and
the lockdown restrictions that have been
imposed on businesses in various industry
sectors , the impact this is having on partners
is immense . Now , is the time for vendors
and distributors to guide channel partners
to look at the positive side of things and
focus on areas of their business that will
give them growth . This can be done through
partner programmes , training schemes and
developing strong in-country teams that
provide ground support to the channel .
And despite the SOHO and SMB market
being the largest spending sector for
all kinds of technology products , small
businesses are still challenged by limited
IT budgets , rapid pace at which technology
is changing and the cost of implementing
some of the networking solutions available
As the supply and demand for network and security tools increases for SMBs in the Middle East and Africa ( MEA ), so do the options for SMB network appliances and services .
in the market today . In addition , skills not just in networking but general IT sector skills remain a huge hurdle for some small businesses in the region and this is where channel partners play a very critical role .
One of the challenges , of course , is to be able to properly identify the technologies that are critical to your business success as a channel partner that ’ s serving the SOHO and SMB segment . Once you have done that , the next crucial step is to actually proceed with identifying customers and building a healthy sales pipeline . Identifying mission-critical technologies is a relatively simple exercise . Actually weaving them into the corporate or existing IT architecture is another matter entirely and that ’ s where partners need to focus on .
With channel stakeholders [ vendors , distributors and resellers ] being urged to do more to help SOHOs and SMBs overcome some of the barriers to networking technology adoption , opportunities for solution providers in this sector are huge .
Increasing awareness around cybercrime and information security provides a natural conversation starter . A security conversation allows IT solution providers to point to a set of services and products they can provide to their SMB clients .
Regardless of the angle which strategies solution providers take to increase their business among SMB customers , channel companies will need to take some fundamental steps . These include taking the time to comprehend their customer ’ s