Feb 13, 2012

Where can I find tech services providers that focus on really small businesses?

Where does a small business of only 8 people turn when attempting to develop a comprehensive strategy for effective utilization of the Cloud? I have found it difficult to locate companies that focus on meeting the needs of smaller businesses; the focus seems to be either on the consumer market or the big business client. Are there providers that focus on the needs of smaller companies like mine, or are they all concentrating on the needs of large corporate clients?

This is where we work each and every day since 1996. Micro-SMB is our focus in providing zero-gap IT Management Services with full accountability - meaning no finger-pointing. Along with that we include Live North American-based support on a 24x7x365 basis from the end-user device and out. Reach out to me if you, or anyone, would like to discuss (no sales fluff).

You can find online the best sevice providers that really focus on small businesses. Now a days, there are many web hosting providers that offers different types of web hosting services like reseller hosting, dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, email hosting and shared hosting services.


I find the SMB IT management space very fragemented, especially if your head count is under 25.  While the market is changing quickly, you will often have to manage various vendor relationships. 


For example, you may have one company deliver/maintain your virtual desktop infrastructure, another provides you with remote support, yet another for on-site support and so on.  If you have data center based assets, then yet another vendor may be involed. I also find that many firms do not support Macs or Linux powered systems, so you need another vendor.


Cloud and managed service providers are starting to change this but I suspect we are a few years from one-stop cloud services shops that can meet all of the needs of an SMB.


Services like iYogi, AllCovered, and EveronIT are some vendors that offer broader service offerings.  Otherwise, you may have to go for Office365, a managed hosting solution for your web site, another company for backups, etc and manage all of these vendors.

I suspect that cloud providers may focus more on small business later. For now they seem to be angling toward the low hanging fruit (consumer and/or enterprise). Your best bet is to do some research on the best cloud providers after you've identified your needs. See what they have to offer a company like yours and take it from there.

If you poke around you should be able to find a service or services that will work for you, but you might have to mix and match vendors if they don't offer a one-size-fits-all that works for your company. So identify what you need and then begin looking at provider reviews to see who might be the best fit for your company.


The tech services market as it relates to Micro-SMBs (small businesses with less than 25 employees) was the subject of a recent study focused on the leadership of companies that provide services such as SaaS software, ISPs and office product retailers.  There was broad agreement among respondents that Micro-SMBs are a large market, while at the same time there was acknowledgment that expansion into that market was hampered by a lack of in-depth understanding and targeted tech services for this segment.


This is still a developing market segment to providers and the perfect micro-SMB tech support model has not yet been established.  However, there is an on-going effort to meet the needs of Micro-SMBs such as yours.  You should be aware that many of the current service delivery vendors that focus on the micro-SMB market actually repackage consumer offers or attempt to sale enterprise-grade offerings (i.e. higher priced) to smaller companies.  This is reflected in some of the observations in your question.


There has been significant effort over the past two years by large “brands” that coincides with the emergence of the cloud to increasingly focus on how to reach small businesses.  It has taken some time to develop, but it is now recognized that this has been an underserved segment of the market.  For example, in September 2008, AT&T launched Tech Support 360 after acquiring CompUSA’s tech service assets.  Tech Support 360 is exclusively focused on the 1-20 employee segment of the SMB environment (which would obviously include your micro-SMB), and offers services ranging from website design/hosting to application hosting and server support.


 Other companies are starting to respond to this important market segment as well.  Best Buy spent millions of dollars to acquire MindSHIFT in November 2011 specifically to bolster their SMB offerings.  Prior to the acquisition, MindSHIFT offered managed IT services, cloud services and data center services for small business customers, but typically greater than 50 employees. It remains to be seen precisely how Best Buy will integrate MindSHIFT assets into its business model, and if/how it will service the needs of smaller businesses such as yours.


While these large brands try and figure out how best to approach this developing market, there are opportunities today for you to take advantage of cloud based offerings to reduce cost and increase efficiency in your business.  I suggest that you identify those cloud services that are likely to be of greatest benefit.  Areas that are “big spend” such as security, storage and hosted exchange services can result in significant savings for your micro-SMB, and there are offerings available to you in the marketplace today by a multitude of smaller providers called Managed Service Providers.  There is likely one local in your area that can be an effective interim solution.


Singu Srinivas

Partner, Consumer & SMB Tech and Tech Services

Waterstone Management Group



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