Going just a bit off topic, I wanted to review a recent small and medium business (SMB) survey released by the Yankee Group on web hosting.
The challenge over the past 5 years has changed as hosting became a commodity. This largely happened as enterprise entrants to the hosting market discovered they were competing against small regional hosting companies who maintained some level of profitability while severely undercutting prices.
Now, lining up web hosts for comparison, the services are primarily all the same and it really comes down to add-on services, customer care and reliability.
There is a real challenge and a real opportunity for web designers and developers based on the survey results. The good news in the survey, 36 to 60 percent of SMB’s with Internet access have a web site, meaning 40 percent remain for cultivation of new business. Add on the ability to sell services to that 36 to 60 percent whose sites need an overhaul or a nip and tuck and some serious sales opportunity surfaces.
What was really striking is that more than 20 percent acknowledged the need to integrate internal systems with web sites. Even better, more than 25 percent suggested they would migrate away from static, marketing-oriented sites to dynamic, database-driven sites over the next 12 months.
The challenges surface in SMB’s perceptions on traffic, content management and cost. Even as the economy balances out in some areas of the world, in general, it remains tentative. SMB’s are expecting more bang for their buck and want increased traffic to their sites, easier methods for content management and perceived value for their investments in design and development.
My recommendation here is to start by studying Andrew Neitlich’s blog on the business of selling web services and solutions. Conveniently, it is right here at SitePoint!
The motivating factor for these SMB’s to invest in new, redesigned or application-enabled web sites remains the same — to establish a brand online and/or to satisfy customer demands.
Some other interesting data from the study:
-More than 52 percent outsource web hosting
-That number rises to 75 percent when looking at the smallest SMB’s (2-19 employees)
-50 percent of medium sized businesses host their web sites within internal offices, a trend, according to the Yankee Group, first emerged in 2000-2002.