One of the interesting things about my job is that I get to talk to many people from a lot of different companies. Some of these conversations will turn into Test Center reviews; many won't. It dawned on me that I was being selfish in not sharing more of the conversations with readers, so I've made a nearly-mid-year resolution to do a lot more blogging based on the conversations I have.
One of my recent conversations with with Numara Software, a company that focuses on help desk software for the SMB market. They define SMB pretty broadly, saying that it includes any organization with 5 to 10,000 users. To meet the needs of this rather large market, the company has two core products, Track-It and Footprints. Track-It is positioned to serve companies from 50 – 5,000 users, with Footprints aimed at those with from 5,000 to 50,000 users. Tony Thomas, a product manager with the company, told me that both products center around five rules -- some quite predictable for any vendor approaching the SMB market, others looking like a real difference for Numara. Here's Tony's list, with my comments:
1. Give customer more for less, more flexibility and functionality for a smaller purchase price. This one is an "it goes without saying" sort of thing for a company that wants to play in the SMB space. It doesn't really matter how good the "value proposition" of a product is: If an SMB customer can't afford to write the check to start the installation, no amount of value is going to make any difference. I've seen too many companies (especially those that start out in the large enterprise space) lose sight of this basic fact.
2. Provide flexible products, since most customers are constrained from a resource standpoint. SMB customers aren't all that different from enterprise customers in the features they want -- they're very different in the resources they can devote to deploying technology to attain those features. I've had several conversations in the last few days with vendors who talk about SMB customers sharing the trait of very limited IT staff resources -- often down to the point of not having even a single dedicated IT staff member. Creating a product that can be rolled out (and supported) by a single IT generalist, or even by a contract resource, makes a great deal of sense for the SMB market.