Technology lets small business dramatically improve efficiency and productivity. But how do you buy new technology a credit crunch when your cash flow is stretched thinner than ever?
IBM today officially announced its solution to the small business credit crunch dilemma with a new billion dollar effort. IBM is opening up $1 billion in credit for approved small businesses with low financing rates and a portfolio of SMB-focused technology solutions.
"There is a gate on access to credit and capital, with small and medium sized businesses finding traditional sources for credit and capital to be quite challenging now," Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM midmarket business told InternetNews.com.
Monshaw explained that the IBM SMB credit program allows for businesses to access credit in a very streamlined process. IBM together with its trusted business partners, is able to understand an SMBs credit-worthiness and provide quick turnarounds on credit decisions in as little time as a one minute.
Monshaw added that according IBM's own studies, there is great demand among SMBs to take advantage of new technology to grow their businesses.
"But if you don't have access to credit and capital, you can't deploy leading edge technologies," Monshaw said.
IBM's $1 billion credit injection is set to be an 18 month global effort and will help SMBs to acquire IBM and partner technologies. The types of technologies that SMBs require most break down to four key areas according to IBM's research: business analytics, security, customer relationship management (CRM) and cloud computing.
"These are the top four areas that show up on all our surveys, and they are the top four areas when we look at current performance for buying patterns," Monshaw said.
Breaking down SMB computing business needs by system architecture and by operating systems shows a mix of environments. Monshaw noted that the SMB market tends to favor Intel x86 as an architecture.
"The Windows and Linux deployments are both very solid," Monshaw said. "I don't have exact statistics because we don't track the final end-user operating system at the deployed level."
While IBM has a portfolio of SMB focused technologies, Monshaw stressed that they are feature-rich and not restricted.
"A lot of people talk about SMB products as being dumbed-down or 'kneecapped' -- that's not what we do," Monshaw said. "We have a set of offerings that have been purpose-built for SMBs."
In terms of what makes an IBM solution SMB-ready, Monshaw said that ease of deployment is a critical factor. Other SMB ready attributes include lower cost while still having robust features.
Cost is a big issue and in Monshaw's view, money is currently the primary barrier for SMBs to acquire IBM technologies.
"Access to credit is very tight right now," Monshaw said.
From a go-to-market perspective, IBM's overall strategy for SMBs is to leverage local trusted business partners. IBM is not investing in direct resources that would create competition with that network of partners. "The strategy that we're on is to continue to invest in recruiting partners, enabling partners and co-marketing with partners," Monshaw said.
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