One of the largest, most challenging and fragmented markets is the SMB market. If your organization’s success depends on your ability to connect with and leverage the skills and talents of this market, cloud-based community tools can deliver sizeable advantages.
Because SMBs are small businesses of every imaginable kind and type, there will not be a singular wave, a moment where this vibrant and diverse community takes to the cloud. Even if they could—and they certainly should—it won’t happen. In the first place, these businesses are too focused on day-to-day operations. There’s another issue, too. In many instances, these businesses simply don’t have the particular knowledge base to say what they need or to how to make use of cloud based services. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
That’s why finding simple ways to bring cloud-based services and tools to SMB partners may be a winning long-term strategy for your organization. For example, consider a large insurance firm working with independent agent partners nationwide. They can use the power of the cloud to easily connect underwriters, brokers, customers and customer service agents. They can deliver online training. A marketing giant with SMB partners can use the cloud to deliver all manner of educational content and even share leads. And they can deliver online training as well. Both organizations will enjoy unprecedented visibility into their SMB partners’ activities. Opportunities for collaboration will increase exponentially.
Much of the focus on cloud-based technologies explores internal workings, processes and collaborative possibilities in the enterprise. But there is plenty of evidence that the gains seen on the inside are applicable to the outside.
A Forbes Insight Report says, “A cloud-based approach to collaboration helps companies accelerate results, improve processes and stimulates innovation. It helps remote workers get more done. The next frontier for collaboration is with external groups—customers, suppliers and partners. These collaborations are leading to significant gains in competitive advantage.”
Certain factors, familiar to many, will play a role in successfully deploying the cloud outside the organization to include partners: Executive sponsorship. Creating a sense of ownership among relevant business units. Agreement and sign-off on requirements. Insights into what your channel partner wants and truly needs. Developing a true understanding of what your organization wants and needs. And, making sure that information gets to your internal teams and IT.
It’s the age of collaboration—inside the enterprise and outside, too.
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