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January 29, 2014

Best Practices for Guiding Your SMB Customers Towards the Cloud

Cloud computing is truly ever-expanding, especially within the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) marketplace. Consider the following statistics presented in an infographic by j2 Global (News - Alert):

  • Nearly 60 percent of SMBs expect to save money by using cloud services in 2014
  • 88 percent either want to or are currently planning to retire at least one legacy office technology this year
  • 36 percent of SMBs strive to offer a more flexible work policy to attract and retain talent in 2014

The numbers don’t lie: the cloud boasts more potential than ever for the SMB for a number of reasons. But this leaves one critical question to be answered: how do SMBs move to the cloud in the most advantageous and fiscally responsible way?

A problem often lies in the fact that SMB customers don’t always know where to take that first step. Many are working with limited resources, limited budgets and perhaps a limited knowledge of the technology. As a service provider, you need to serve as a trusted, expert advisor for helping your customers come to this very important conclusion.

This topic took center stage at “Picking the Right Hardware for Your SMB Customers,” a panel session held today during Cloud4SMB, a collocated event taking place at ITEXPO East 2014 happening now through Jan. 31 in Miami, FL.

The panel featured an exclusive lineup of speakers including Robert Messer, president and CEO of ABP Technology, Inc.; Juan Pablo Pazos, president, XmarteK; Wei Tang (News - Alert), VP Business Development North America at Yealink; Craig Rocco, Product Manager for Data Solutions at Jenne Inc.; and was moderated by Alex Vishnev, CTO at Global Convergence (News - Alert), LLC.

“SMBs are increasingly reaching out to cloud offerings and solutions,” Messer explained. “We all still rely—for the most part—on one single provider; however, as more and more services come into the cloud, we may see this change,” he added to the agreement of his fellow panelists.

Today’s panelists stressed that the following factors must be advised upon so that SMB customers can choose the right hardware in today’s cut-throat, competitive market:

  • Network selection: This includes availability, reliability, redundancy, readiness, quality and service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Security:  Ensuring secure customer access, secure remote worker access, threat defense (i.e. firewalls, DoS) and guaranteeing a secure overall enterprise
  • Equipment: Does your customer want a stand alone or integrated solution? Do they want configuration or management? A proprietary or interoperable platform?
  • Services: This includes voice, IM/presence, conferencing, video, and other more advanced apps. This also includes determining services for monitoring, provisioning, managing, accessing and accounting.

Another area of focus during today’s panel session was buying factors. Messer, for instance, believes price should play a role—however, not the only role—when purchasing. “I think it’s key that we select products not just based on price but based on its lifetime functionality,” he stresses.

At the end of the day, the demand for SMB cloud services will only grow stronger with each passing day.  How are you working to meet this dominating business need?

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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