IBM targets the SMBs

As IBM starts its 2001 Gitex appearance, one thing is still a distinct reality: the small-to-medium business (SMBs) segment is still an elusive area for the computing giant.

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By  Robin Duff Published  October 14, 2001

As IBM starts its 2001 Gitex appearance, one thing is still a distinct reality: high-end accounts have never been a real problem area for the company. The small-to-medium business (SMBs) segment, on the other hand, has always proved elusive for the computing heavyweight.

However, with the revenues slowing from the high-end, high-margin accounts, the SMB market is assuming greater strategic importance for Big Blue.

At the local level, IBM partners Gulf Business Machines (GBM) and Saudi Business Machines (SMB) have tackled high-end customers in the region, but have faced challenges when attempting to break into accounts lower down the value chain.

“We have to get to the small businesses and explain to them the real message… we do NT servers from $700 all the way up multimillion dollar systems, we do Linux and we cover all platforms,” says Farid Metwaly, general manager, IBM.

Metwaly is promising that Big Blue and its partners will be more aggressive in both the consumer and SMB segments. The key to success in both areas is the need to breakdown the perception that IBM is both expensive and that “only large customers can afford our solutions” says Metwaly.

However, restructured pricing alone isn’t going to be enough to get close to the low-end market. Consequently, IBM is planning to build a second tier to its distribution model to deliver a focused service on the SMB segment. The second tier conduct training among the user community and “Communicate and explain the real message and strength of IBM,” says Metwaly.

Since putting in a team focused on the small-to-medium space, SBM has enjoyed considerable success, says Metwaly.

The Saudi-based partner has deployed a call centre and built several partnerships with value added resellers in the local market to offer ‘solutions.’

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