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SMB Tech Roll-up: Dell Grows with SMB Spending, CRM Gains Ground

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David Roe avatar

This week in the SMB market, there are strong indications that the market is beginning to show concrete signs of a positive swing, with fiscal figures from Dell that show SMB spending in the space is growing. CRM and social CRM releases from NextCorp and Constant Contact, as well as new upgrades for SMBs from Symantec, show where their priorities lie.

SMBs Bounce for Dell

Anyone wondering about the economic condition of the SMB IT market need only look this week at the financial results for Dell’s (news, site)  fiscal year 2010 to see what impact the rebound is having on small businesses.

Overall, for the year, Dell reported US$ 2.64 billion in net income on US$ 61.5 billion in revenue, an 84% and 16% increase, respectively.

Within that, while most of its units were fairly strong, its SMB unit was the star performer, with turnover up 4% in the fourth quarter to US$ 3.7 billion. What this means is, while revenue in its consumer business dropped off, its SMB business unit reached its highest level in two years.

And if that wasn’t convincing enough, figures released during the week show that PC purchases by smaller firms increased by 16.5% over the year.

Looking at purchases globally, last year was the first year that SMB spending in emerging markets surpassed that of mature markets, with growth rates in the US at a small but steady increase of 4.4%.

However, everyone seems to be optimistic about 2011, with manufacturers such as HP (news, site)  and Dell unveiling desktop models targeted at the SMB segment at the beginning of 2011.

NextCorp Releases SMB Suite

Moving on to some of this week’s releases, NextCorp announced its SMB Suite, a pre-packaged, integrated cloud solution built on Microsoft’s ERP, CRM and Office productivity technology over the course of the national Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 launch.

The SMB Suite aims to exploit the increasingly rapid move to the cloud by SMBs, sealing NextCorp's position in the organization and presence in the ERP Cloud space.

Introduced in 2004, SMB Suite is a Microsoft-based, subscription-oriented solution for accounting, productivity, collaboration and e-Commerce. As anall-in-one "Cloud Business Engine," it integrates Microsoft Office with ERP, CRM, SharePoint, Live Meeting, email and e-Commerce applications.

Priced between US$ 325 and US$ 375 per user/month, it also enticingly offers customers the possibility of custom pricing, which clearly depends on the level of your deployment from a range of different components.

Constant Contact Adds Social CRM

More in the SMB CRM space this week -- this time, the announcement that SMB consultancy Constant Contact has announced the acquisition of Bantam Live, a contact management and social CRM provider owned and operated by privately held Bantam Networks.

Under the terms of the deal, Constant Contact has bought Bantam for a cash purchase price of US$15 million.

Constant Contact is a social CRM platform built on a robust and flexible Ruby on Rails platform. With it, users can create unified repositories of data across all channels, including clicks, email opens, survey responses, event participation and social media interactions.

Probably more important for future developments, it also comes with a team of developers and engineers experienced in developing products for the SMB market.

Constant Contact will integrate Bantam Live's Ruby on Rails-based technology with Constant Contact's Java-based SaaS solution to create a scalable and flexible platform.

Learning Opportunities

While Constant Contact integrates the social CRM technology into its core engagement marketing services, Bantam Live will be free of charge to active Bantam Live customers.

Symantec Upgrades SMB Security

We already talked recently about Symantec (news, site)  in relation to its recent Endpoint upgrades at the RSA conference that is finishing in SF at the moment.

Symantec has, for some time now, been playing in the SMB space, and with its Endpoint 12, it has added a version for SMBs called EndpointSmall Business Edition (SBE) 12.1.

Symantec’s Endpoint Small Business Edition (SBE) 12.1 will go public this summer, with beta release scheduled for April. New features of SBE 12.1 include smart scanning, automation and easier installation and upgrade times.

It also includes the use of Insight and SONAR developed for Norton, and is able to scan and approve of up to 2.5 billion files in Symantec’s database, passing those files that are shown to be harmless.

SONAR stands for Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response and uses behaviors and characteristics, rather than bytes, to identify malicious threats.

Business Outsourcing Grows in Asia

Finally, just to get some idea of how extensive the Asian SMB market is -- particularly the market in India -- Tata Consultancy Services has launched iON, an integrated IT solution for SMBs. It offers software for HR, finance, inventory and sophisticated domain-based ERP solutions to basic applications such as email, document management and website services. It is pre-configured with hardware, network and software bundled and backed by business, technical and consulting services.

iON has already won 135 SMB customers, but is aiming to grow that to more than 1,000, as well as US$ 1 billion in the next five years in India alone.

TCS, though, is a global company, and the question really is whether it will venture outside of India with this product, or stay in a market that already has a number of other players.

In any case, for companies looking for new SMB markets, TCS’ expectations speak for themselves, and it might be worth casting an eye in that direction.