Messaging in the SMB space

* Problems SMBs face in the messaging space

The small to midsize business market is an area of significant interest for a wide variety of messaging vendors because it represents a largely untapped market for sophisticated messaging capabilities.

The small to midsize business market is an area of significant interest for a wide variety of messaging vendors because it represents a largely untapped market for sophisticated messaging capabilities.

SMBs experience messaging problems that are just about as bad as their enterprise counterparts. However, they experience much higher costs of ownership because they lack economies of scale, which leaves the SMB market particularly challenged when it comes to solving problems at a reasonable cost.

To understand the problems faced by SMBs, we have just completed a major research program with organizations in this space. One of the key findings from this research is the significantly greater cost of managing messaging systems in the SMB space.

For example, in a study of large organizations (more than 2,500 employees), we found that the median number of users supported by each full-time equivalent (FTE) IT staff member focused on messaging management was 1,360; in our just completed SMB study, we found that figure was 200. That means that for an SMB that requires sophisticated messaging capabilities, the cost of labor - the single largest component of the cost of managing most messaging systems - is nearly seven times higher per user than it is for an enterprise.

The obvious solution, then, is for SMBs to drive down the labor investments required to maintain messaging capabilities. This is the approach that vendors of messaging systems are pursuing, offering appliances and hosted services that require very little time to deploy and maintain.

Because SMBs, like enterprises, must continue to expand their defenses against viruses, spam, spyware and other threats; while at the same time improve their capabilities around archiving, business continuity, etc., they must force the cost of each capability as low as possible.

If you’re an SMB, I’d like to get your thoughts on the problems you face in managing messaging systems - please drop me a line at michael@ostermanresearch.com.

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