I recently attended the Future of Cable Business Services event, a one-day conference hosted by Light Reading that explored the progress of cable operators in the U.S. business telecom services market – it was informative, and enjoyable.
What I found most interesting, perhaps surprisingly, was a panel that had very little to do with the future of technology, called Cable Customers Speak Out. The panelists were small and medium business (SMB) customers of cable companies – actual customers! Joseph McGovern, the president of NuTech Healthcare, was cheered as he detailed his priorities, selection criteria and business philosophy of what he wants and doesn’t want from his telecom service providers.
Reliability is of supreme importance to Joseph, simply because if his phones don’t work, he loses business. It’s also important for him to have a partner to support him: one that will provide excellent service, high quality, and high speed with no hassle, because his sales organization mainly works with iPads connected to the back office. All of these factors were important to him, but when he looked for a service provider he was looking through different lenses – green ones.
When he realized that switching to a different service provider would save him ten thousand dollars a year, suddenly the right path became clear. True, he wants to use tools that will help him grow the business, such as SaaS applications and cloud storage, but he will use them only if they are within his budget, or offered for less.
To make money in the SMB market, service providers, whether they are cable operators or incumbent telcos, need to be extremely efficient. The lesson? Efficiency is the key to success in the SMB market. Those seeking higher margins should go up-market to the more complex world of large enterprises.