A recent report by GE Capital, a provider of specialist finance throughout the EMEA region, revealed the extent to which midmarket firms are essential to future economic prosperity. The report, which focuses on the European midmarket, credits mid-market organisations as the drivers of UK GDP and even goes as far as to suggest that UK mid-market firms are close to matching the revenue growth of the famed German Mittelstand.
The director-general of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), John Cridland, appears to support the view that midsized organisations, despite being small in numbers, are big on impact. In fact, just 1.67% of British midmarket companies provide more than one-third of private sector GDP, revenues and employment. There is clear consensus that medium-sized businesses are hugely important to the British economy.
Should this come as a surprise? As a global technology company serving businesses of all sizes, we too see the resilience and opportunity this market segment holds. As dynamic organisations, midmarket companies have been emerging as a ripe opportunity for some time now. While markets have been flattening more generally, the midmarket has continued to defy the downturn. So how is this possible?
Focused on improving their performance in every way – from products, procedures and costs, to management and structure – midmarket companies have many distinct characteristics associated with growth by innovation. They are inherently more nimble than their larger competitors in their approach to innovation and management. They can adapt to both internal and external changes extremely quickly to ensure they thrive in the toughest environments. Yet they also have the resources and infrastructure in place to withstand market conditions that their smaller rivals may find extremely challenging.
For the technology industry, the opportunity appears to be very clear. Medium-sized businesses offer high growth opportunity with faster time to cash. But many technology vendors will tell you that this market has until now been underserved. Why?
Few vendors are actually building their products from the ground up, meaning there is very little available that specifically addresses the demands of this sector
Despite its huge potential and all of its positive attributes, the midmarket sits in an uncomfortable position when it comes to technology adoption. On the one hand, this market is highly sophisticated; midmarket firms want what enterprises want in terms of sophistication and they don’t think they should have to sacrifice that just because they need to cater for 50 employees and not 500. On the other hand, without the financial clout that enterprises hold, mid-sized businesses are demanding this at a better price point.
One of the main issues is that few vendors today are actually building their products from the ground up, meaning there is very little available that specifically addresses the demands of this sector and today’s work environment. This is now starting to change, however. Entering the market you’ll now see solutions designed with the unique needs of mid-sized businesses in mind – aimed at empowering these companies with simple, effective and engaging collaboration. They offer, for example, greater scale, providing companies with maximum flexibility as they grow; virtualisation to make it even easier for mid-sized businesses to implement advanced communications and collaboration; and overall simplified and streamlined management for organisations that can’t afford to dedicate IT staff to troubleshooting videoconferencing all day.
For the channel, this presents a huge and a very lucrative opportunity to gain tremendous competitive advantage. Partners who can offer the latest, state-of-the-art technology, combined with services and support, at the right price point, are set up to score. The challenge is finding a way to play to the market, and to change the focus of the conversation from solutions and technology, to business benefits, customer satisfaction and ROI.
This means tapping into the specific challenges they’re facing as mid-sized organisations – and where possible bundling solutions in order to address them. Specifically designed midmarket programmes like Avaya iConnect, for example, are aimed at rapidly increasing support for partners targeting this dynamic market opportunity. The key is to provide partners with quick and easy access to a one-stop-shop for sales, marketing, and technical training and support, as well as speeding up the process of getting partners trained, certified and selling to customers in this segment.
As the midmarket continues to go from strength to strength, the spotlight shines brighter on the many attractive and compelling attributes this segment holds. In many ways, the technology industry is uniquely positioned to support this dynamic market proposition and to grow with the companies that have contributed to its success. Failing to recognise the very distinct requirements of midmarket companies, however, will only limit the scope for the technology ecosystem to take advantage while it’s ripe. And that is one opportunity you don’t want to miss!
Michelle Jones is EMEA channel development and marketing director at Avaya
This was first published in November 2013