Dell today announced a three-tier service offering targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, which the company sees as one of the sweet spots for growth in a sluggish economy. (Statement)
Small and medium sized businesses are often overlooked as headlines focus on things like data center virtualization, cloud computing offerings and more for the large enterprise customers. But the growth and success of SMBs is important to the overall economy - and that's not just Dell singing that song. At a event in San Francisco today, the company left most of the talking to analysts from Gartner and Forrester, as well as a small business customer who has been testing the services and has "only good things to say about it."
In a nutshell, the services start from an alert-only option that is about the same as the red warning lights in the car. It basically tells the SMBs "IT guy" - who often also wears the co-founder, CFO and sales hats - that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. A second tier, of course, adds in the services for Dell to make the fix and the third - aka "The full Monty," - offers the full suite, including 24/7 support.
The big selling point for Dell is the pricing, with plans starting as low as $9 per month, per user - with no upfront costs.
Tim Harmon, a senior analyst with Forrester, kicked off the event by talking about the role of small to medium-sized businesses in a recovering economy. Already, he said, stimulus dollars are being earmarked for investments in SMBs and, historically, those are the types of businesses that are first to recover from a sluggish economy. In addition, he said, there's a youth element there - the 18-24 year-old "Gen-Y"ers, if you will - that bring their understanding and excitement around technology to work, sharing what they know with the boss.
Harmon noted that, in a large enterprise, there are IT folks who can advise the executives about the innovation they should be pursuing but instead find themselves fighting for a budget that allows them to do more than just keep the lights on. The kid in the mail room may have ideas but the idea that they would reach the CIO is unlikely.
But, in a small or medium-sized business, the "IT guy" is often one of the founding members who is juggling many roles - CFO, sales manager, marketing guy and so on. They wear too many hats and they welcome advise, even from the kid who's just making deliveries.
Dell wants to be the service provider who takes the "IT guy" hat away from the boss so he can spend more time wearing the other hats that will help the business grow.