Vendors home in on smaller businesses

IT equipment vendors and service providers appear to be homing in on the the sub-corporate market more aggressively than ever.

IT equipment vendors and service providers appear to be homing in on the the sub-corporate market more aggressively than ever.

Computerworld has been invited to several product launches aimed at smaller organisations in the past two months and the country’s biggest ISP, Xtra, has signalled its intention to target smaller customers in marketing drives.

Avaya, the former Lucent Technologies enterprise networks division, launched IP Office, an IP-based PBX box for the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market earlier this month. In February, Alcatel released a similar product, OmniPCXOffice, also aimed at smaller businesses.

Tony Jayne, managing director of Avaya’s New Zealand distributor, Agile, describes IP Office as “tailored to the SME market, rather than tweaked to suit it”.

Avaya’s global SME business manager, David Robinson, in New Zealand earlier this month for the launch, told Computerworld “we’ve been in the SME market a long time” and claims that IP Office is an advance on a previous SME product, Network Alchemy.

Australia and New Zealand were key markets for IP Office, as 95% of the two countries’ businesses employ 100 people or less, he said.

Security and antivirus company Symantec recently released an SME product in New Zealand, the Firewall/VPN, a firewall-networking-VPN box aimed at SMEs, remote workers and small branch offices of larger companies.

Publicity material accompanying the launch noted “small businesses carry the burden of malicious attacks because they don’t have the resources to immediately rectify security breaches” and that “a small business usually relies on a single systems administrator to handle all IT demands such as system monitoring, maintenance and security enforcement.”

Gartner Asia-Pacific research director Geoff Johnson notes another factor in the trend.

“Given the downturn [in IT], multinational corporations with operations across North America, Europe and Asia are taking global perspectives on cost-cutting which do not necessarily make sense in countries like New Zealand and Australia where the economy is boiling along nicely, thanks. Given that, the remaining buyers of IT goods and services are SMEs and mid-caps.”

It’s not just product vendors that appear to be upping the ante on the SME front. Xtra business general manager Ralph Brayham says the ISP will be targeting small businesses in future marketing campaigns, on a sector-specific basis.

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