2024 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges




    SMB & Midmarket Predictions


    Channel Partner Predictions


    2023 Top 10 Partner Business Challenges, Priorities


    Channel Partner Trends


    SMB & Midmarket Security Adoption Trends


    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption


    Networked, Engaged, Extended, Hybrid


    Influence map & care-abouts


    Connected Business


    SMB & Midmarket Managed Services Adoption


    SMB & Midmarket Analytics & Artificial Intelligence Adoption


    SMB Path to Digitalization
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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Zoho – A Great Bet for Mid-Market firms

In October 2022, Zoho reached US$1 billion in revenue. Zoho was founded in 1996 to deliver easy-to-use and deploy CRM solutions to the SOHO market segment (Small Office, Home Office). Even the Zoho name was a spin from SOHO. Zoho has transformed from a fledgling startup to an enterprise serving small, midsized, large, and public sector organizations globally. In recent years, Zoho has successfully moved upmarket from helping small businesses to midmarket firms and enterprise customers. Mid-market firms are measured, thoughtful, agile, and rapidly digitally transforming, focusing on cloud cost optimization and business process automation. These firms are building a longer-term strategy for an integrated, flexible approach to incremental cloud expansion. In direct contrast, small businesses move from point to point, working first on one discrete solution and then on the next. This dichotomous approach is a real challenge for suppliers as they need to differentiate solutions for the small business market and demonstrate that their offerings are essential components of broader strategies for mid-market firms while attracting attention to their products and building brand preference in both segments. While the expectations of mid-market buyers about SaaS providers are similar to large enterprises, the budgetary limitations create challenges in supplier selection, deployment, and management.

Techaisle research shows that midmarket firms invest in their employees and are social responsibility advocates. As a result, they want their vendors to share these characteristics and mindsets. Therefore, serving the mid-market segment necessitates a distinct culture that is not characterized by high prices and lengthy sale cycles.

Midmarket technology DNA and role of Zoho

The positioning of the solutions within the midmarket is essential. It requires in-depth information on business benefits and the process steps needed to capture those benefits targeted at BDMs, and information on how to assemble, deploy, integrate, and support/optimize these solutions targeted at ITDMs – and an understanding of how to position and convey the messages to each audience.

Its extensive portfolio of cloud business applications includes 50+ products, ranging from traditional office suites to analytics, finance, sales and marketing, collaboration, customer service, HR, and many more business processes at competitive pricing. Zoho has a deep engineering culture immersed in R&D, along with maintaining its cultural ethos without having to cope with any interference from either external investors or the public market. Zoho believes that instead of spending heavily on sales and marketing, it would instead invest in software development efforts or let its potential customers access the limited-feature platform for free. This strategy has proved to be very successful for Zoho and its customers.

Simplicity, flexibility, and value for midmarket firms

Zoho One, the flagship product, is designed for mid-market businesses. With Zoho One, customers have access to 45 business, collaboration, and productivity applications, of which over 20 applications (across functions) are used by more than half of Zoho’s customers. The solutions are a part of a unified technology platform with built-in search, messaging, and AI services. It runs on a unified database with a unified data model with data pillars that enable seamless integration to deliver single truth for the business empowering users with a unified experience. The collection of apps running on a single database architecture and purpose-built on Zoho technology stack - services, software, hardware, and network infrastructure - deployed on Zoho’s own global data centers ensures performance, availability, security, and privacy. All these solutions and features come at an affordable price, which makes the package suitable for mid-market firms as it significantly reduces the total cost of ownership, deployment, and integration timeframes.

Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist, Zoho, once said, “the market is littered with features masquerading as products.” Zoho One provides single sign-on, single subscription, and a fully integrated platform. It is common knowledge that app-specific experiences drive infrastructure-level optimization steeped in Zero Trust, AI, distributed file structure, and data center expansion driven by market dynamics.

More than 60% of Zoho’s workforce is devoted to engineering, developing new technologies, and keeping these technologies updated. Since the launch of Zoho One in 2017, Zoho has been innovating and updating its applications. With the evolution and maturing of newer technologies, Zoho has been adding AI/ML functionalities and improving user experiences.

In the past five years, Zoho One has grown considerably and has acquired over 50,000 businesses as customers in 160+ countries. Over the past two years, the platform has grown 150%, with 37.5% of new customers from mid-market and enterprise segments. License upgrades have increased by 92%. These figures spotlight the strategic commitment by Zoho to deliver end-to-end solutions that empower organizations to be agile, scalable, and adaptive to changes in their industries. Even the midmarket developers are taking notice as they can access Zoho Tables, RPA, and Test automation tools. Zoho Finance suite has seen tremendous growth. As per Zoho, it is processing 100M invoices per year.

Zoho One is wholly developed in-house on a single technology stack and is a unified, end-to-end platform that offers plenty of integration points across applications. Well-grounded unification enables organizations to link functions such as sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, human resources, and others. Moreover, the platform can be easily integrated with third-party solutions, allowing organizations (especially mid-market enterprises) the flexibility to manage complex systems, large amounts of data, and dispersed teams.

Techaisle’s latest midmarket research shows that 42% of firms are increasing their spending through cloud marketplaces. Over 500K Zoho users use 1500+ apps from the Zoho marketplace (e.g., Twilio for Zoho CRM). Recognizing the need for verticalization, Zoho has purpose-built industry apps such as real estate CRM, travel agencies, IT services, field services, and many others. Most importantly, Zoho enables midmarket firms to develop and deploy custom apps.

zoho unified dashboards widgets

Zoho addresses the need for high-velocity custom apps

It is relatively easy to adopt a single SaaS solution, connecting its inputs and outputs to relevant internal systems and processes. It is possible to adopt a handful of cloud applications, hand-wiring the interconnections between them and adjacent applications. But this craft-built approach to the cloud differs from longer-term visions of scale, flexibility, and agility. It creates IT management overhead and performance and security risks. Even worse, disconnected systems affect relationships between companies and their customers: workflows that lack cohesion create unnecessary gaps in service. Unable to link all inputs to achieve a single view of the business reduces visibility into individual customer preferences and broader market opportunities. Zoho One provides midmarket firms with tools they can use to develop their applications and automate their business processes by creating workflows. For example:

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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is a phenomenal multitasking notebook for the discerning SMB user

Occasionally there comes along a compelling, impressive, persuasive, and differentiated notebook design that astonishes you. Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is that design. The new Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 has a 17.3-inch ultrawide 3K display AND an additional 8-inch color display beside the keyboard. It is built for multitasking. And I love it.

I first fiddled with Thinkbook Plus in November 2019. The notebook gripped my attention because of its “Think” pedigree, focus on the SMB segment, and unexpected E-Ink screen on the lid. It was an intriguing design. Fast forward two years to September 2022. The innovation difference between the Gen 1 and Gen 3 has been nothing but exponential. I distinctly remember quizzing engineers during analyst council sessions with many PC OEMs about a notebook with multiple or extensible screens. Two models with dual screens have been introduced, and Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is far better than its competitor.

techaisle lenovo thinkbook plus gen3 image

I have been using a fully configured (1 TB SSD, 12th Gen Intel core i7-12700H processor, 32 GB memory, a fingerprint scanner on the power button, TPM 2.0) production model for most of the last month. It is an innovative and practical notebook that exudes the quiet confidence of imaginative applied design. When I powered on the notebook, my synapses fired on all cylinders. Lenovo still has one of the cleanest setups and installs of any PC OEM. Lenovo Vantage is one of the best apps to personalize device settings, update drivers and software and manage security configurations.

Dual displays are more productive than one

The touchscreen 17.3-inch main display of the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is ultrawide and has a resolution of 3072 x 1440 with an aspect ratio of 21:10 and 400 nits brightness. The ultrawide display in a laptop makes multitasking more accessible and allows users to see more content with less distraction. The massive and roomy display is a visual treat, a productivity enhancer, and ideal for Windows 11 snap layout. Straddling the line between business, work, and life, ThinkBook boasts Dolby Vision for lifelike images, blue light reduction, and 2 X 2W Harman Kardon audio for superior sound. The Lenovo Integrated Pen is a bonus for the secondary display. There is a built-in pen garage in the right corner of the chassis rear. I found the pen responsive on the 8-inch display when using Microsoft OneNote. I have extensively used the secondary 800 x 1280 multitouch LCD display for email, note taking, meeting calendar, WhatsApp desktop, skype, web browsing, file explorer, and Teams chat. Its 10:16 aspect ratio works very well, in my experience. It is one of the best examples of multitasking. Although the screen resolution is not the best, it is very productive to have an additional display. The high point is that I can drag and drop most applications and snap windows from the main to the secondary display and vice versa. I have effectively used the screen to glance at my talking points during presentations. The two screens combined optimize my productivity. The backlit keyboard is helpful.

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Dell Latitude 9330 - a great laptop becomes even better and is a collaboration powerhouse

How does one take an existing exceptional PC brand and improve it? I have no idea, but the engineers at Dell Technologies achieved an incredible feat with the Latitude 9330 13-inch form factor. A hardware advancement enhanced by software innovation. For a month, I have been using the latest ultra-premium 2-in-1 with the world’s first distinctive Collaboration Touchpad. Weighing 2.8 lbs., the Latitude 9330 has empowered my mobile, nomadic work style in planes, trains, cafes, lounges, conferences, parks, hotels, and the home.

Mobility magic

The mobility magic is easily felt in its thoughtful design. Wi-Fi 6E and 5G ensure that one is never out of reach of Internet connectivity. I activated Verizon 5G (which is not always the best in the places one needs most), but it works. The 13.3-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600) WVA touch display with 500 nits of brightness is plenty vivid and crisp to scroll through volumes of data and PowerPoint presentations in bright lights and dark surroundings. Dell has continued with its InfinityEdge display design, which is very neat, and the ComfortView Plus display reduces blue light. Those using Windows 11 know that its snap layouts and snap groups work great on large external monitors. Therefore, I was initially skeptical because of Latitude’s 13-inch screen size, but I found the use of snap layout and snap group features on the Latitude effective. If I require additional screen space, I connect the Dell ultrathin 14” FHD portable monitor (C1422H). It gives me dual-screen productivity with 330 nits brightness and 2 x USB-C (one on each side). Working from home, my Latitude laptop is connected to a Dell UltraSharp 34-inch Curved video conferencing monitor (C3422WE) through a Dell dock, a Dell Bluetooth silent keyboard, and a mouse.

The battery life can last through coast-to-coast flights but not a cross-Atlantic trip. However, the specifications claim that the laptop can charge up to 80% within 40 minutes, which in my experience, comes very close to it. The Adaptive Battery Performance tends to optimize and extend battery life. The backlit keyboard is excellent for working in dark environments such as planes when the lights are dimmed or during my late-night work habits.

Sustainability is quickly becoming an essential purchase decision-making process. The Latitude 9330 does not disappoint. The packaging is made from 100% recycled materials, and the keyboard and the keycaps are also made from recycled materials.

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Collaboration center

Video-enabled collaboration is necessary for business agility – decision agility, innovation agility. The nature of the collaboration discussion has permanently changed. Advanced collaboration technologies answer real business issues – issues that have become more pressing in today’s competitive world for productivity, innovation, and customer interaction. The Latitude 9330 is built for collaboration, enhancing video, and calling. It has top and bottom firing speakers and four microphones to pick up one’s voice clearly. The glass collaboration touchpad automatically lights up with Zoom icons for mute/unmute, video on/off, and screen share when in a Zoom call. The settings can be modified in the collaboration section of the Dell Optimizer. The icons have saved me a ton of time from fumbling for mouse-click buttons on the Zoom screen. The 1920x1080 webcam with a safety shutter automatically opens and closes during video calls. The camera shutter can be opened/locked with the F9 key for extra cautious users. Included in the laptop is AI-based noise cancellation for background noise reduction. It is unclear if the noise cancellation is additive to or overrides the feature of video-conferencing applications.

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Mitel evolves its UC growth strategy and gains momentum with RingCentral UCaaS

Mitel’s overall philosophy for unified communications (UC) is enabling customers with broad flexibility to deploy what they want and purchase solutions how they want. A key differentiator of Mitel’s has been its belief that one size does not fit all. That belief is supported by a recent Techaisle global study revealing that 44% of firms use multiple communication platforms. On-prem unified UC solutions dominate in 88% of firms, but in 56% on-prem capabilities co-exist with cloud solutions. All these options are choices that Mitel supports with its Customer Lifecycle Management approach, recently bolstered by its exclusive UCaaS partnership with RingCentral.

Mitel - RingCentral UCaaS momentum - “A Differentiated and Evolved Partnership”

Mitel is not just partnering with RingCentral but doing even more by optimizing the complete migration experience through collaborative processes, migration tooling, device transfers, and exclusive incentives providing Mitel customers a world-class UCaaS solution and a clear, flexible path toward the future. Mitel is actively integrating numerous capabilities with the RingCentral MVP (Messaging, Voice, Phone) platform to enhance the whole experience for customers. The first example of this broad integration was evident just five months following the RingCentral partnership when Mitel launched its first set of certified devices – the 6900 series phones – which work seamlessly with RingCentral MVP. Customer choice and experience extend into a well-thought-through onboarding process, enhanced by Mitel’s Migration Assist Package, which introduces automation and accuracy while migrating customers 75% faster than industry standards. Customers migrating to less than a hundred seats can take advantage of these free implementation services. The free service is very generous as it includes access to an Implementation Advisor who also schedules discovery and training sessions and unlimited access via toll-free number for follow-up questions and assistance on system setup. Mitel partners or RingCentral provide professional services for customers with more than a hundred seats.

Mitel’s partnership with RingCentral has seen significant momentum, migrating over 100,000 seats in the first six months of the exclusive relationship.

The RingCentral – Mitel partnership is highly differentiated from others in the market, including RingCentral’s relationship with Avaya. From the outset, Mitel has distinguished itself from Avaya and others with superior pricing and purchase flexibility, ease of deployment and migration, professional services, and training. Although Avaya is widely considered to have a composable CPaaS offering, Mitel’s CloudLink technology with APIs and integration capabilities are yet to be fully utilized by developers and partners. Additionally, the compensation received from RingCentral fuels investments in core Mitel unified communications R&D and innovation and potential future merger and acquisition activities.

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