Research firm IDC has handed out 16 awards to companies excelling in the small to midsize business market sector, including Cisco, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
In the area of market segmentation and customer targeting, Cisco and Network Solutions picked up awards for looking at SMB customers in "new and effective ways" and developing programs to meet the specific needs of SMB groups.
Two EMC companies, Decho and Iomega, picked up the award for innovative alliances, with IDC noting that the two companies are working together to provide bundled SMB storage capabilities in a flexible fashion. "Similarly, Intuit and IBM have established a relationship that provides advanced access to Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions through IBM Smart Business platform technology," IDC noted.
NetSuite Business Software Suite, Doyenz ShadowCloud, Telstra Business T-Suite, and LogMeIn Rescue and Ignition for iPhone were recognized for their SMB solutions built around cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SAAS), while the Oracle Accelerate, SAP Business All-in-One Fast Start and Rogers Communications BusinessFirst Partner Programs were recognized for their efforts in streamlining and enhancing customer engagement.
IDC noted that SMBs have always been more interested in the benefits of technology than in technology itself: In the area of new applications approaches, HP, through its MarketSplash program, and IBM, through its Express Advantage program, were singled out for their approach to the market with effective customer-centric programs. In technology deployment, IDC recognized the innovative delivery and support of advanced technology introduced by AT&T with its small business InSite portal and AT&T SMART tool, Dell with its Vostro PCs and ProSupport Services, and Verizon with its Verizon FiOS Internet for Business broadband solution for SMBs.
Raymond Boggs, vice president of IDC's SMB research division, said IDC will continue to identify and recognize exceptional efforts of firms engaging the SMB market. "Moving forward, we expect the creativity and initiative shown by the first group of IDC SMB Excellence Award recipients will be echoed in the activities of other innovators," he said.
Boggs also observed that while the focus on changing customer needs and innovative technology deployment will be at the heart of SMB excellence in general, four themes will likely emerge as particularly important in distinguishing noteworthy SMB efforts: leveraging cloud and SAAS capabilities, capitalizing on new alliances, sharpening the focus on specific SMB groups, and delivering more effective technology support.
Nominations for the IDC SMB Excellence Awards were made by IDC technology and SMB analysts worldwide, with final selections made on the basis of three key criteria.
A nominated firm must offer products and/or programs specifically targeted to address the unique needs of SMB firms (beta products were not considered). Also, the products or programs must have important implications for the nominated firm: opening up new market areas, expanding portfolio appeal or addressing customers in ways that have the potential to increase the company's market relevance. Finally, the nominated firm's activities must have competitive implications, meaning other technology firms could learn from the approach to refine their own efforts to address the SMB market.