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The Rise of the Midsize Business

Midsize and smaller companies represent more than 90 percent of all businesses around the globe. They employ more than 90 percent of the world’s workforce. And they produce more patents and more innovations per employee than larger companies. The collective power and creativity of these companies are truly staggering. Even with limited resources, midsize companies are fueling economic growth around the world.

And yet the realities of an increasingly global marketplace have put midsize companies at a competitive disadvantage. Midsize companies are now often in direct competition with larger, better-funded and more influential enterprises. As a result, these smaller companies will need to use every bit of their ingenuity to compete on this new level.

How are midsize companies reacting to this new marketplace? And how has technology evolved to meet their needs? To try to answer these questions, ForwardView spoke with Harris Warsaw, IBM Vice President, General Business, North America. In his role, Harris leads IBM in delivering business solutions to clients through direct and channel sales in one of IBM’s largest business growth segments.

Read excerpts from the interview below and listen to the podcast for the full interview.

ForwardView:
You’ve worked closely with customers for many years. What key solutions are successful midsize companies adopting today? Have you seen that change over time?

Harris Warsaw:
It’s a very exciting time to be a midsize company because for years midsize companies were struggling with how to afford technology and compete in an ever-changing marketplace that’s going more global. And with the evolution of technology, in particular cloud, more midsize companies are able to benefit from and leverage technology than ever before. So it’s an exciting time for companies like IBM and our Business Partners to engage with them going forward as technology is now more affordable and implementable for midsize companies.

ForwardView:
What are the biggest challenges midsize companies have in adopting these solutions, and how does IBM help to remove some of these barriers?

Harris Warsaw:
One of the things midsize companies will struggle with is being able to bring on the skills. When you’re looking at applications like security or analytics or commerce, midsize companies are looking to solutions or companies that can provide end-to-end capability rather than having to buy and implement all the hardware and services themselves. So with our Business Partners, we are creating a broader portfolio of applications to enable midsize companies to compete, and leverage the capabilities of technology, against some of the larger companies that obviously are able to buy it, produce it and custom build it, which midsize companies cannot do.

ForwardView:
What are some of the other emerging trends or evolving technologies that midsize companies should start preparing for that will be important in the next few years?

Harris Warsaw:
Well, analytics is certainly there. If you look at this whole trend around social media, social is impacting our behavior in the way people communicate. And then the last one is this trend of globalization. And I think technology allows midsize companies to participate in that ever-expanding global marketplace.

ForwardView:
Do you think that cloud capabilities are equally important to the midsize client?

Harris Warsaw:
They’re critical because through cloud, they’re going to be able to potentially access analytic kinds of solutions. And we’re working with a whole new growing segment in our Business Partners called MSPs, managed services providers, which are working with application providers to provide their applications over the cloud. IBM is working very aggressively with these companies, which are midsize companies whose business is to provide applications over the cloud.

ForwardView:
What sets IBM apart in how it caters to midsize businesses?

Harris Warsaw:
First of all, we have an organization dedicated to it. We have dedicated people, dedicated marketing, dedicated brand investment and a dedicated commitment to our channel partners to provide an unprecedented portfolio of offerings and capabilities in the space. So we recognize them as a growing segment. We don’t lump them in with large clients because they have specialized requirements and specialized price points.

The challenge that we have and we’re working through is to continue to build our brand awareness in this space. Oftentimes, people associate IBM as big and working with big clients, when we have a very aggressive and very competitive portfolio of offerings and, quite frankly, a rapidly expanding base of midsize clients. We’ve got the R&D and the brand support. We’re acquiring new companies all the time that bring solutions in this area, and I think it’s our story to tell and our market to compete in, and we’re aggressively doing that.

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