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Marching Orders 2013: Market to SMBs

As part of Redmond Channel Partner's annual "Marching Orders" feature, we asked several channel luminaries to give their best advice to help Microsoft partners succeed in the coming year. Here are some tips from Cindy Bates, U.S. Small and Medium Sized Businesses & Distribution, Microsoft.

The New Year brings a new era of opportunity for partners working with SMBs. New levels of innovation in the cloud, new form factors and ways of interfacing with PCs, and the accessibility of virtualization solutions are transforming the way SMBs run their businesses, let alone their IT infrastructures. Among the biggest areas of opportunity:

  • True momentum in cloud. Cloud remains chief among the opportunities for partners to transform their business for the future. According to IDC, 60 percent of SMBs say the cloud plays a critical role in giving them an advantage over competitors by providing access to enterprise-grade technology. SMBs demand flexibility, security and scalability, and the cloud is the affordable answer. By the end of this fiscal year, we project nearly 2 million seats of Office 365 will be sold in SMBs -- a true testament to the investment SMB partners are making in cloud. To build upon this success, we will continue to provide a variety of offerings to meet your business needs, and the needs of our mutual customers.

  • Innovation and growth projections in hardware. Growth projections for PC and tablet sales next year are higher for the United States -- at 23 percent -- than for anywhere else in the world. If history repeats itself, they could actually be much higher than that. When Microsoft released Windows 7 three years ago, IDC at that time had forecast a PC growth rate of only 3 percent that fiscal year, and the market actually grew at 16 percent. At the same time, we're seeing tremendous innovation from our OEM partners, who are delivering new form factors and making natural UI a productive reality in the PC environment. We've entered a new era where business people can have a cohesive experience across all of their devices, and actually be productive whether working on a PC, tablet or smartphone. All of this adds up to a host of new scenarios being unlocked for SMB customers. For example, the combination of mobility, touch and the new level of productivity now delivered on tablet devices makes tasks such as point-of-sale presentations easier and, frankly, cooler than ever before. Partners should explore these new scenarios with their SMB customers to help them realize the full potential of what they can accomplish in this new era.

  • Accessibility, affordability and demand for virtualization among SMBs. More than 70 percent of midmarket companies are currently virtualizing some servers, and roughly one-third of small businesses cite virtualization as their largest area of IT investment, with disaster preparedness specifically in mind. As the Northeastern United States continues to rebuild following Hurricane Sandy, disaster preparedness is top-of-mind as an imperative for SMBs, which arguably have more to lose than large enterprises when disaster threatens their ability to operate. The availability of Windows Server 2012 in SMB SKUs that include Hyper-V Replica make now a perfect time for partners to engage SMB customers around enterprise-caliber disaster recovery solutions and affordable IT scalability.

Visit the Ready-to-Go Marketing portal to learn more about marketing to SMB customers.

Check out the full Marching Orders 2013 feature here.

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 8:50 AM


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