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The hot SMB market is getting even hotter. Don't believe it? Well, don’t look now, but retail giant Office Depot is gunning for your small and midsize business clients.

Earlier this week Office Depot closed its $1 billion acquisition of CompuCom Systems and announced the formation of BizBox, a subscription service offering tech and business services to SMB owners.

“Technology is the office supply of the future,” says Gerry Smith, Office Depot’s CEO. (That could be your mantra for 2018!) 

CompuCom, founded in 1987, delivered IT services to more than 5.1 million end users. It also had the largest employee field technician workforce in North America, with some 6,000 licensed technicians.

Office Depot says the newly combined company will serve SMBs with end-to-end IT services. These services, it adds, will be delivered by Office Depot technicians and cloud/data centers. It’s apparently all part of Office Depot’s omnichannel platform, particularly its last-mile footprint offering access to nearly 6 million SMBs within 3 miles of the company’s 1,400 or so stores.

Office Depot plans to move CompuCom’s Tech-Zone service for SMBs into its retail stores. It’s also creating an indirect channel to sell new services to SMBs. This effort will be led by Janet Schijns, reports CRN. Schijns, formerly Verizon’s channel chief, joined Office Depot in July. CRN says her new focus will be building a VAR channel to reach small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

The survey says…

All this comes during the same week that Microsoft released the results of a new SMB survey. The online survey, conducted last month, got responses from 1,300 self-identified SMB owners, each with fewer than 200 employees.

Here’s some of what they said:

> Plans for 2018: 90% of SMB owners surveyed plan to hire 1 or 2 employees next year. Nearly 40% plan to introduce new products or services. Just over 35% plan to launch a new marketing strategy. And about 20% plan to partner with other SMBs.

> Cybersecurity: Shockingly, fully half of the SMB owners say they’re not concerned with data security. And 1 in 4 say they’re doing nothing to protect their companies. Scary.

Of those who do want to address security, 70% say they’d rather pay for services than do it themselves. And of those actively securing their data now, 30% use encryption software and nearly 40% use antivirus.

> IT support: When they need tech help, 32% of the SMB owners say they ask a relative or friend, and about 25% pay for support services from a small, local computer store.

> Top IT challenges: Looking ahead 5 years, nearly half the SMB owners say they’ll be challenged to keep up with tech changes. Here’s a chart, courtesy of Microsoft, showing their top tech challenges both now and looking ahead 5 years:

Microsoft SMB survey pie charts

All active on the western front

In related news, market watcher IDC this week issued its forecast for the SMB tech market in western Europe. SMBs are a big deal there, accounting for 99% of the business population and more than two-thirds of total employment, IDC says.

The news is good: SMBs in western Europe will spend the equivalent of $125.3 billion on IT products and services this year, IDC predicts. That would represent an increase over last year’s spending of 3.4%.

Looking further into the future, IDC predicts that IT spending by western European SMBs will display a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5%. Assuming IDC is right, that would bring the total spend to over $137 billion by 2021.

“SMBs show resilience and a propensity to invest,” says Carla La Croce, an IDC research analyst.

The hot SMB market is getting even hotter. Don't get left out in the cold.


Blog Category: 
Advanced Technologies