The ups and downs of the SME market
Today's announcement of a new business range of Drobo products from Data Robotics, based on its BeyondRAID technology that allows users to mix and match drives, is another instance of a company moving up from the consumer and very small business into the SME market.
Of course, SMEs have become accustomed to being targeted from both sides, by vendors moving up the chain and others coming down from the corporate and enterprise space.
In both cases, the vendors involved appear to have convincing arguments to deploy. Smaller vendors will suggest they are best suited to look after SMEs because they are just like them and their products will fit better into their operations. Enterprise vendors will tend to emphasise the "enterprise-class" features in their products even if, in the same breath, they will also point to the elimination of those features which they believe SMEs do not need.
Stuck in the middle, alongside the customers, are the resellers who are courted by both types of vendor. Data Robotics, for example, has launched a Business Premier Channel programme to sign up resellers to sell and support its new products. The enterprise giants, likewise, set up their own dedicated reseller tiers to sell their SME products.
In both instances, the vendors are moving into new territory. While having the right product for the market at the right price point is important, they also need to make sure they have the right attitude and that they get their channel activities right. Often, that's easier for a small business to get right because it doesn't have the distraction of trying to protect an enterprise brand or see past an existing philosophy. It is not selling down to the SME market but progressing up to it.
This was first published in February 2011