Propelling the mid-market with robust communications, collaboration and infrastructure into 2016

26 Nov 2015
SMBs make up over 96 percent of ASEAN's businesses, and in 2014, the segment has spent about US$2 billion on cloud computing services alone across the region. Unlike large enterprises or small business outfits, mid-market firms have graduated from the struggles of startup-hood and yet to be weighed down by the gravity that afflicts bigger companies, enjoying explosive growth with challenges unique to the segment.
 
New technologies are powerful drivers of middle market empowerment with mid-market leaders no longer satisfied with solutions that are scaled down versions of larger systems. Mid-market customers are looking to have enterprise-grade solutions that provide the right kind of mobility and agility they need.
 
Governments across ASEAN are equally supportive of this approach with grants and initiatives targeted to encourage innovation and enable productivity. In Singapore, the 2015 Budget allocated grants to encourage innovation and adoption of ICT, while in Thailand, the new National Digital Economy Master Plan focused on training and knowledge-sharing to help mid-market growth.
 
While government initiatives remain to be an incentive, with costs remaining to be a key concern, investments by the mid-market remain cautious. Not ready to invest in new employees, servers, appliances, and networks for many years have left many seeking outside solutions to help them catch up. Many mid-market managers are increasing relying on enhanced support and outsourced solutions that enable adoption and support for new technologies without bearing the costs associated with technology, heavy staff training or staff resource redeployment.
 
As they make their final dash towards the last quarter of 2015, Avaya outlines three considerations for the mid-market when evaluating technology that can support them:
  1. Agility and scalability — Unlike large enterprises, mid-market firms face greater pressures from limited resources. It is not an unfamiliar situation where the IT department is made up of a small team or in some instances, manned by a single executive. Mid-market organisations are also generally more nimble than their enterprise counterparts, and therefore expect their suppliers to be faster to deliver too. With higher opportunity costs from loss of time, mid-market firms need solutions that can be up and running in hours, and not days. In addition, one-size-fits-all solutions that are narrowed down will not necessarily meet future needs of a mid-market company.
    For too long, mid-market solutions were just limited solutions intended for larger enterprises. Flexible to growth, the solution needs to be able to 'right-size' to your organisation's needs. That means the solution shouldn't force you to overbuy now, but instead allow you to easily expand as circumstances require. Instead of being forced into a forklift upgrade — swapping out hardware, adding software and re-negotiating your maintenance agreements — look for a solution that protects your original investments. It should also allow easy integration with existing applications and platforms.
  2. Enable and manage non-stop productivity, from anywhere, on any device — With limited resources mid-market also needs this non-stop productivity to be easily managed. They need to look for solutions that can be centrally managed with intuitive and easy to use web-based administration. There's also a need to bear in mind that employees today are consumers as well, so technology they use needs to be intuitive and easy to use. Solutions that have the right application for the function, vertical and market place are critical to communications and collaboration. Integrated solutions with a complete set of voice, data, and video capabilities can result in greater positive impact on the bottom line and help with productivity.
  3. Robust infrastructure to support communications and collaboration needs — An Avaya Network Agility survey found that over 90% of businesses lost annual revenue as a result of downtime from network change errors. Given the pressures the mid-market companies face, they need to ensure that the lights are constantly kept on — and they are able to sell to maintain and grow bottom lines. The mid-market also needs a robust network infrastructure that is simple to operate, cost effective and easy to set up.
The expanding economy and advancing technology have created unimaginable opportunities, but with that comes considerable risks. From communications and collaboration solutions, a robust network infrastructure to customised support from a valued partner, these are key solution attributes and considerations the mid-market must take to empower employees and enhance their competitive edge. How mid-market companies manage investing in IT now will have profound effects in 2016 and beyond.

This article appeared in Computrrworld Singapore on 26 November 2015