2019 was not an easy year for medium businesses. A tough economy, wary consumers and global uncertainty made it hard for large enterprises. But the impact was more acute among medium and smaller companies. Yet this has stoked more interest and momentum for those organisations to modernise their operations.
Brad Pulford, GM - Channel & Distribution at Dell Technologies Africa
Unfortunately, the will is not enough. Digital modernisation is a resource-demanding and risky venture, so most medium businesses are careful and even a little uncertain about what to do next. This, I believe, will be the market’s biggest focus in 2020.
Medium businesses don’t have the same resources as larger businesses to pursue new technology improvements. They are not as capable of supporting implementations, deployment, strategic mapping and transformation within their IT landscape.
Cloud and data management
Yet this part of the market is also accelerating, mostly thanks to the cloud and data management. Medium businesses have flocked to adopting a cloud operating model in 2019, particularly services that make them more agile and reduce their costs. Many of these companies are interested in some type of cloud model, often shifting to operational expenditure while also gaining access to groundbreaking new technologies and efficiencies.
Cloud promises a lot for companies, but there is also a naivete among medium businesses. They understand the broader values of cloud models, then get lost in the nuance. Concepts such as virtualisation, software-defined and multi-cloud can be incredibly useful to medium businesses - more than what large organisations gain. But unless the market helps them with the journey, it’s unlikely that many will exploit those and other features.
2020’s technologists must focus on catering more consistent messages and advice to the medium business market. Vendors and their partners must push the value-add of cloud, but contextualised to the specifics of a medium-sized company. Such companies are very varied: the needs of a graphics design house are very different from those of financial sector companies.
This must be matched by partners bringing their full capacity to the table: as I highlighted earlier, medium businesses don’t have resources such as capital and time to throw at digital modernisation. They will need the help of partner resources to get results.
Transformation is a journey
But what can the midmarket do to start this journey?
That is the first step: realise transformation is a journey and requires partners that will walk the talk long-term. Ask around: check with vendors as well as your peers - word of mouth is the most reliable indicator of a technology partner’s reputation.
Then look for a model that contains your IT costs. Identify your priorities: it may be security, backups or aggregating sales data from different branches. Look for long-term cost-cutting as well as near-term operational wins, such as automating selected processes or onboarding a new business platform service. Settle on a very basic cloud model, if you don’t have one yet. This will help address some of the most critical needs, as well as make the business familiar with predictable operating and cost models.
The midmarket can become more prepared to take the hard knocks as well as improve their performance, using technology to leap forward. Vendors must come to the table with sound advice, proper resource and financing options. We must embrace the understanding that every medium-size business has different barriers to overcome.
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