Going After SMEs

The last few days have seen a flurry of announcements on the small business services front:

  • Yahoo announced “a new three-tier Web hosting service aimed at small businesses with 100 employees or less.” From Line 56:

    Rich Riley, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Small Business says the hosting market on this scale in the U.S. is greater than $1 billion, and addresses as many as 20 million businesses, most of which have no online strategy. “The key driver will be businesses coming online for the first time or upgrading their online presence to be a mission-critical part of their business,” Riley says. “We want to be the leader of the market which is highly fragmented with no clear leader.”

    Yahoo employed a Harris Interactive poll to discern five key customer criteria for a small business portal: reliability; cost; customer service; trust; and brand. “We already operate the world’s most heavily-trafficked website,” Riley says, “and we’ve been in the hosting business for five years.” Yahoo says 24-hour mail and telephone support is part of the service level agreement for mid and top-tier customers.

    Yahoo’s three service tiers are:

    Business Starter, which offers 10 personal address email accounts 50 megabytes of storage and 20 gigabytes of data transfer for $11.95 per month;

    Business Standard, which provides 25 business edition email accounts, 100 meg storage and 25 gig data transfer for $19.95 per month and;

    Business Professional, with 35 email accounts, 350 meg storage and 35 gig data transfer for $39.95 per month.

    Adds News.com: “Called Yahoo Web Hosting, the product brings together tools and services to allow small businesses have a Web presence. All subscribers will get 24-7 customer service, domain name registration, a business version of Yahoo Mail, access to Yahoo’s e-commerce storefronts and the ability to be promoted on Yahoo. Subscribers also get Web site publishing tools, design templates for different types of businesses, PHP scripting and MySQL database services.”

  • Dell announced “new services to make it easier for small businesses to purchase and get computer networks up and running.” The three sets of services, according to ServerWatch, are:

    Network Design — assesses the customer’s hardware and software needs, as well as technician time required to build a network. With a starting price of $199 this package includes an on-site assessment from a technical expert who will review what’s in place and determine what is required to design a well-rounded network or to deploy a specific hardware configuration

    Installation — available for Dell’s entire product line, including OptiPlex and Dimension desktops, Latitude and Inspiron notebooks, Dell Precision workstations, PowerConnect switches, PowerEdge servers, PowerVault storage, and a variety of software and peripherals. For desktop, notebook and workstations, Dell said it will transfer data from the old systems to the new, as well as install the customer’s software on each system

    Dell’s Business Professional Training — targeted at customers with zero IT staff, this package includes online courses for more than 340 applications. With this $99-per-year package, enterprises with a technical staff can tap Dell for industry certification programs or schedule time with technical experts to provide more training

    Adds San Jose Mercury News on the Dell announcement:

    An estimated 70 percent of small businesses don’t have IT departments, according to a report by AMI Partners Inc.

    Businesses like mom-and-pop stores, beauty parlors and other small operations have been craving this kind of package, said Michele Hudnall, a Meta Group analyst who tracks technology service and support.

    “They don’t have the funding to bring in the folks who would have the expertise, so the more out-of-the-box, plug-and-play that Dell can make that, the better,” she said. “It has to be very canned.”

    Hudnall said the tricky part for Dell could be figuring out how to offer proper support to customers once the products are designed and sold because Dell doesn’t have a physical presence at the business.

  • Interland acquired Trellix. From the press release:

    “We believe that the addition of Trellix provides our company with, hands-down, the industry’s best technology foundation necessary to attack this huge mass-market opportunity,” said Joel J. Kocher, Interland chief executive officer.

    “Through our mass-market strategy we are creating an opportunity to reach a much broader audience of small businesses — and one that no one else is reaching effectively. Interland will be able to offer a unique blend of service and technology by combining its market leadership and revolutionary blueHALO hosting platform with Trellix’s technology and significant distribution relationships,” said Kocher.

    The current Web hosting market can be characterized as early adopter, generally more technically savvy than the average small-business owner, according to Yankee Group research analyst Helen Chan. “There is a very large market opportunity as most small businesses and home offices do not have a Web site,” said Chan. “By acquiring Trellix, Interland is poised to be a leader in both the early adopter market and the small-business mass market. This move will help broaden Interland from a Web hosting service company to a Web solutions provider for SMEs.”

    “This merger is a wonderful combination,” said Trellix founder and chief technology officer Dan Bricklin. “Small businesses must have access to all of the online aspects of doing business today to find and serve their customers. Unlike big businesses, they have no data centers and no dedicated IT staff. They need someone else to do all this on their behalf. Together, we can provide software tailored to small-business needs, tightly integrated with facilities manned 24×7.”

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.