There must be a better way for SMEs to get the solutions they need to drive their businesses forward.
Caught between the general inadequate ‘free’ apps they find online and the so-called ‘best of breed’ solutions out in the market, the result is not satisfactory. Both options force SMEs to accept new tools that need to be integrated with what they already have in-house, and which add to the ever-growing list of business apps employees use to do their job.
In the average small business, how many apps do you think employees use. 10? 12? Maybe more? Research certainly suggests this number is higher.
This, in turn, results in SMEs having to put up with a long list of business apps that all need to be managed, don’t share data, and all have a different user experience – not to mention their need to maintain various vendor accounts, payments and relationships.
Given that 98% of UK firms and 99% of US firms are SMEs according to official government statistics, this under-resourced sector is certainly ripe for a new approach. They should not have to hang off the coattails of tools built primarily for large corporations that can afford specialist systems, or settle for sub-functional free consumer apps, or the multiple app approach SMEs find themselves managing. We need to give them what they deserve, and today integrated technology can do just that.
The platform on which innovative solutions are built should be ubiquitous – like Amazon or Salesforce. Both do everything in an open way, allowing for their services to be leveraged and consumed seamlessly by others. More companies should adopt this approach, making extensive use of APIs to ensure connectivity to other platforms, or using their services to drive app functionality, so as to eliminate duplication. Ultimately, tech companies should focus on the bits they are good at to achieve a greater rate of innovation; that’s what we do at KDS.
Furthermore, value-based apps should be distributed to SMEs via core service lines of business as a bundle. Not direct, as it is too costly to the tech vendor and SME purchaser. Current key players such as financial institutions, accountants and business advisors are in the best position to service the needs of SMEs with integrated bundled services, and take advantage of the distribution revenue along the way.
But watch out; there is a new trend in ecosystem service bundling. Business Internet providers, vendor supplier sites and facilities management companies are the ones poised to challenge the traditional service offerings by creating complete SME marketplaces for business services. Their integrated services are connected and seamless.
It’s a new way to deliver solutions – one that is gaining in popularity, and which KDS is pioneering into the payments sector with our neo1 software, starting with the core requirement for SMEs of expense management and business intelligence.