SMBs use a variety of sources to learn about technology solutions and trends, but three in particular stand out from the rest, according to the “2014 SMB Routes to Market Study” [brochure pdf] from the SMB Group, portions of which were provided to this publication. Asked their 3 most important information sources, surveyed SMBs pointed first to vendor and/or service provider websites (43%), followed by professional advisors and/or consultants (42%) and colleagues in similar businesses (41%). (See here for more on what B2B buyers are looking for on vendor websites.)
Not far behind those top sources are technology and/or industry analysts, considered a top-3 information source by 36% of respondents. Interestingly, search engines (30%) outranked tradeshows (24%), perhaps due to their greater accessibility. Newspapers, business journals and/or magazines (whether print or online) are also a significant influencer, perceived to be a top information source for 1 in 5 respondents. On the other end, few consider social media sites (5%) or blogs (4%) to be particularly important in their search for technology solutions.
While the study measures adoption of various technology solutions, the researchers provided information requested by this publication specific to two areas: marketing automation and business intelligence and analytics.
The marketing automation industry is set for large revenue gains, and has variously been forecast to reach $1.2 billion in market size this year and $1.9 billion in 2020. SMBs will likely play an influential role in that growth; results from the SMB Group study indicate that one-quarter of respondents either purchased or upgraded a marketing automation solution during the 24 months prior to the survey, while another 26% have purchase plans in place for the following 12 months.
(By comparison, 30% have purchased or upgraded BI and analytics solutions during the past 24 months, while 24% have plans to.)
The study finds greater adoption of cloud services by SMBs, and that extends to these two particular solutions. Among those who have purchased or upgraded marketing automation solutions during the past 24 months, some 36% use a cloud-based or SaaS solution, while 44% of those who plan a purchase or upgrade in the next 12 months plan to use such a solution.
As regards BI and analytics, some 31% of those who have upgraded or purchased a solution use a cloud-based or SaaS solution, while 34% of those who plan a purchase or upgrade expect to opt for that deployment method.
The leading purchase channel among those who have purchased or upgraded each solution is direct from software or SaaS/cloud vendor, by roughly half of each group. Beyond that, slightly more than 1 in 10 buyers purchased via a managed service provider or a local/regional value-added-reseller (VAR) or systems integrator (SI).
- The most popular identified marketing automation brands (among those who had purchased/upgraded in the past 24 months) were Salesforce (28%), Marketo (9%) and HubSpot (8%), though 17% identified brands other than those listed.
- Among BI/analytics brands purchased or upgraded in the last 24 months, Microsoft Excel (21%) took the lead, followed by Microsoft SQL Server Predictive Analytics (10%) and SAP Business Objects/Business Objects Edge/BI On-demand/HANA (8%).
About the Data: The data is based on a web-based survey among 705 SMBs (1-1,000 employees). The data was collected in February 2014 and respondents are responsible for making/influencing technology solution decisions.