SMBs move from desktop to mobile computing devices

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 10, 2013

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The PC-purchase behavior among SMBs witnessed a phenomenal shift in recent times. Over the past one year, an increased number of SMBs are moving to notebooks, tablets and other mobile computing devices. According to the latest study by New York-based Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, over 40 per cent of SMBs plan to acquire some kind of mobile computing devices in the next 12 months. These devices together exhibit almost 20 per cent SME spending growth over last year, says the study.

AMI researchers believe that factors such as greater mobility capabilities, enhanced productivity and space-saving due to smaller form factor are driving the growth of portables and ultrabooks. Moreover, dwindling price gaps between desktops and notebooks and other mobile devices are encouraging the mid-market segment to opt for the latter.

“For SMEs, principal drivers for purchase of new PCs are enhancing productivity through new technology applications and managing continuous business expansion both with regards to the number of branches and new employees”, said Poulami Paul, Research Associate at AMI-Partners. Still – a clear difference exists between SEs and MEs vis-à-vis these drivers. MEs are already completely PC penetrated and are primarily looking at PC adoption due to completion of replacement cycle. On the other hand, a significant proportion of SEs will be first time PC buyers”, commented Paul.

AMI analysis on SME decision-making process for PC-procurement reveals that PC buying procedure for small enterprises is more centralized with business owners and partners being heavily involved across all decision making phases. However, as one expects, the purchase process is much more structured and decentralized for the midmarket segment. Here also, business owners and CEOs have the main say at all stages; yet non-IT Senior Management and IT Heads contribute significantly at different stages such as need identification, outlining specifications, brand short listing and finalization.

According to the study, SMBs are increasingly using new-age digital social media tools such as social networking, search engines and blogs during information-gathering prior to PC purchase. “Over 60 per cent of SMEs utilise social media for various business purposes. In fact, for most SMEs, being present in a modern and popular social networking site has almost become a hygiene factor”, said Paul. Simultaneously, traditional and mass media advertisements show no dearth of usage. “PC vendors would do well to take recourse to both traditional and modern media to disseminate information about their product portfolio and build awareness among SMEs”, commented Paul. Interestingly mid-sized companies prefer product demonstrations and free-trials before final PC-purchase.

The study also finds out that a gradual transformation is occurring in the RTM (Route-To-Market) or Channels landscape for SME PC adoption. A significantly high percentage of SMEs continue to prefer Value-Added Resellers (VARs) or local dealers for PC purchase mainly due to their round the clock service support and hand-holding.

“This is particularly valued as SMEs have a less-evolved internal IT management infrastructure. However SME usage of retail channel is also on the rise due to the proliferation of regional and national-level electronics stores all over the country offering a wide selection of brands to this segment,” said Paul adding that this is particularly relevant for basic PC hardware, where the retail format enables SMEs to get a sense of touch and feel of the product.