What’s an SMB?

September 27, 2007 - 1 Comment

I love Wikipedia. I just do -it just speaks to me. So of course I had to check out the Wikipedia definition of SMB. Lot’s of interesting possibilities including Small Mouth Bass, Steve Miller Band, Server Message Block protocol. Plus some of which are just way too inappropriate to mention. Here’s a liberally paraphrased version of the Wikipedia definition I was after:”œSmall and medium enterprises or SMEs are companies whose headcount or turnover (revenue) falls below certain limits. The EU categorizes companies with fewer than 50 employees as “small”, and those with fewer than 250 as “medium”. In the US, SMB often refers to companies with less than 100 employees, while medium-sized business often refers to those with less than 500 employees.” Cisco defines SMB pretty much along the lines of the EU definition. These definitions are fairly meaningless because they imply that SMBs are just small enterprises. But thinking in terms of mobility, small and medium size companies are different than enterprises in 3 key ways:1) Applications that drive their wireless deployments and upgrades aren’t voice, guest, or location tracking. They are more basic such as moving from paper to electronic systems (e.g. electronic medical records), upgrading accounting systems, and addressing regulatory compliance. Or deployments are event driven such as moving to a new location or addressing security holes.2) They speak a different language then enterprise. SMB owners and business managers rely on a range of”experts” for IT decisions because they typically have little or no IT staff. IT staff that exists are generalists, not networking or wireless experts. Trusted advisors may include business peers, vendors (think Dell), on-line retailers such as CDW, accountants, consultants, and brothers-in-law.3) SMBs don’t really know how Cisco can help their business. To most SMBs and their VARs, Cisco is too big, too complex, and too expensive. Try navigating Cisco.com and compare the experience to hp.com. This is our opportunity and this is what we need address.I have to admit that all of this is pretty much a U.S. centric point of view and needs more thinking for different markets. In many countries, a 250 or even 100 person company is a big business. And even though we like to segment the market by company size, how many SMBs actually view themselves as one? They would most likely describe their business as (for example) a manufacturer, retailer, medical clinic, hotel, legal office – and we should too.

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  1. Hi,This is a good summary ! I would like to add another 4th) point, which is also a consequence of you point 3):- SMBs do not have a regular (networking and communications) buying pattern, because SMBs do hot have a regular budget allocated to it…so they buy only when there are Applications that do request communication investments.regards