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    4 Replies Latest reply on Feb 6, 2009 11:46 AM by GeorgiosG

    Small Business IT: Black Box or Custom Complexity?

    Siondo Wayfarer
      The software-as-a-service model (SaaS) allows software providers to offer fully integrated software applications to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) at lower cost. Unlike SMBs, larger companies increasingly implement all-in-one integrated solutions that streamlines both, front-end and back-end operations and connect all information across an entire company. Why do SMBs hesitate? What can software providers do to encourage SMBs to opt for all-in-one SaaS solutions? Software solutions that have been designed for large or medium-sized companies clearly do not work for small companies including start-ups and "one person bands". Most business software out there looks daunting and SMBs, perhaps, only use 10% of the offered functionality. Owner managers and directors of SMBs are often overwhelmed by the complexity and customisability of existing software products that only applies to large organisations. Among the success factors for small business IT are simplicity, flexibility, and automatisation. SMB owners and managers should not need an IT or accounting degree to use their software. Do SaaS providers need to find a balance between black box (for simplicity) and full customisability (for flexibility) to tab the SMB market? A market that has neither standards nor market leaders.
        • Re: Small Business IT: Black Box or Custom Complexity?
          DomainDiva Ranger

          One of the great selling points of SaaS is no expensive software deployment.

          While doing some research on software deployments I actually came across books that teach companies how to negotiate a deployment. That to me is just insane. Coupled with the cost of the 'consultants' or consulting to manage the installation after the deployment.....spending money in this way seems so wasteful. It's like throwing all of your data into a dempsey dumpster, mixing in a search engine that has 20 different types of search and letting it run on 'mix' for 5 years while people get paid to stand around and watch.

          Software providers like wedded to their business model(s). SaaS is a totally different business/revenue model. Since it is SO different and as yet unexplored as a mainstream provider there is a lot of flexibility for design, implementation, payment, document storage etc..

          SaaS is going to expand the application offering as SaaS designers 'customize' for types of businesses. For instance ours is heavy aircraft maintenance, with a focus on the aircraft leasing company. Our SaaS is really unique in that we do not store the data, we only store the meta data in our spreadsheet format with the linked documents being stored on our customers server(s). A customer could opt for an external hard drive but we are trying to discourage that for obvious reasons.

          SaaS not only offers customers an alternative, the domaindivas, geeks and artists are going to have a great time developing great new affordable products. I can't wait to see what we have in 2-3 years.
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Small Business IT: Black Box or Custom Complexity?
            GeorgiosG Newbie
            Well, this question has been bothering many small business owners since the beginning of time. We, as a small business ourselves, have developed Solo Small Business Gateway
            : An all-in-one
            solution for small businesses that covers all their IT needs (File/Web/Mail/Printer/Backup
            server, Antispam/Antivirus/Firewall) and also offers a PBX and fax server. This is
            linux-based software installed on off the shelf hardware with two network interfaces, and requires no linux or any other systems admministrations skills, since it is all managed via a web interface. It automatically updates itself, with no reboot needed ever. And prices start at less than US$1500 including all hardware, software and support. And to blend it with SaaS, there is a version that ISPs sell, Solo Telco Gateway: The same concept,
            applied in a device, offered by an ISP as a complement of their SOHO/SMB
            broadband offering. The device stays at the customer
            premises, critical network services (mail/web) are hosted at the ISP datacenter and all devices
            are centrally controlled at the ISP's Operations Center.
            It costs a lot less (~$500) and comes as a black box.

            Solo Small Business Gateway
            requires a master
            VAR (reseller) that has access to
            shops/establishments that provide solutions to small businesses.These establishments (currently ranging from IT college geeks to nationwide retail chains) could provide a lot of extras for whomever feels they need them, even a full support contract, at very competitive prices. This is because it can all be done remotely.

            Solo Telco Gateway requires a large supplier with access to ISPs,
            or even better an ISP/Telco directly, who will also provide 2nd level support to them.

            Since this could be a good idea for a business startup, i.e. to become a VAR of Solo, please checkout and to get more info and contact me for any further information
            • Re: Small Business IT: Black Box or Custom Complexity?
              snipperred Scout
              Hi there,

              I'm keeping my eyes on Microsoft, believe it or not. First, they approach personal end-user directly through OS and Microsoft Office. That extends over to Micorsoft Office Live Small Business and other Windows Live applications . There is special emphasis on the web-based platforms and they have integrated everything into their commercial applications in Microsoft Dynamics. Just yesterday I caught a t.v. commercial interviewing the CEO for QuickSilver- promoting something called People Ready enterprise solutions I think- the main point being people want to focus on running their business and not all the technical details. I haven't looked into it yet, but I bet I'll be just as impressed. To me, they are doing one of the best jobs in bridging the divide. Consequently, I see a hot topic popping up on other social networks about the divide between business and IT. So thanks for bringing up a timely subject.


                • Re: Small Business IT: Black Box or Custom Complexity?
                  GeorgiosG Newbie
                  Indeed Microsoft has turned towards the SMB market, as it has long-tail characteristics.

                  However their solutions start at around 10kUS$ plus 120$/user, and are pretty friendly to the end user, but heavy on maintenance and of course, hardware.

                  It nice to bother about us small businesses though, even it is still far from being suitable for the cost-driven SMBs.

                  If you want I can provide you with a demo for Solo Gateway, to get an idea.