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SMB IT Technology Applications Opportunity

With a new year under way, IDC's global small and medium-sized business (SMB) analysts have pondered the key trends and industry developments likely to impact the SMB information technology (IT) market over the next 12 to 18 months.

A variety of evolutionary and even revolutionary changes will drive opportunities forward on a worldwide and regional basis. Among the top 10 predictions are the following:

- In North America, SMB IT will gain in local networking and broadband will set the stage for investment in security and storage.

- Growing investment in technology for productivity enhancement in EMEA will transcend regional differences and variation in country support of SMBs.

-The pace of technology expansion in China and India will spur SMB spending growth in 2007 to record levels.

-In Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile will lead the way in regional SMB IT spending growth.

"The opportunity to provide SMBs with advanced technology will continue to grow significantly throughout the world in 2007," said Ray Boggs, vice president for Small/Medium Business and Home Office research at IDC. "Global and regional macroeconomic forces will be key, but even more so will be the appeal of productivity gains made possible by the application of newly affordable technology delivered by a growing number of market participants."

I believe that the un-tapped opportunity in the SMB and SOHO market segment is very similar to the evolution of the connected 'digital home' market. Application support -- how to apply technology to extract value -- is where the greatest demand exists. It's essentially an unserved market, with vendor offerings that currently focus customer care services primarily on break/fix scenarios.

An application walk-through, custom tutorials and even personalized mentoring are key areas of opportunity. The solutions can be delivered either online or in-person, depending on need or pricing preferences. The opportunity to enable peer-group generated video is where I anticipate we'll see the most profound new service innovation that complements the User Support Forums.

However, few IT companies seem to understand this emerging trend, or how to leverage it as a customer experience enhancement. That's why the window of opportunity is wide open for new creative offerings. Geek Squad, and others, have just begun to develop this service category.

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