Business & Finance
Commentary
6/27/2003
08:42 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
Commentary
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Editor's Note: Less Is More, More Is Less

Consider this a story about the small and the big or the big and the small and doing more with less and less is more. Let me explain. One day last week, I met with some folks from an innovative, small security company hoping to get more traction with big enterprise users. It already has a few such customers, but those companies don't want publicity, probably because they don't want to give hackers clues about their security plans, right? No. Because they don't want to divulge competitive information, right? No. It's because they're a bit squeamish about betting on small companies these days. Will they be around in another year? Do they have what it takes to keep up with their demands? Will the benefits be worth the risk?

Now let's switch gears. The next day, I was learning more about how a few very large vendors are hoping to gain traction with small and midsize businesses. With fewer lucrative, large-scale, enterprise software projects getting the sign-off these days, companies such as IBM and SAP have their sights set squarely on the decision makers at small and midsize businesses. And like the big company betting on the small vendor, this, too, implies some risk. Can small companies afford products from companies used to selling to the biggest of the big? Will they get the attention and service levels they need? Is the software too complex?

While one big company, Microsoft, has made significant headway in this market over the years, others are racing to create products, strategies, services, and pricing to reach the hearts and minds of technology decision makers ("IBM Takes On Microsoft: Smaller Businesses Win"). Of course, as our profile on Fingerhut ("A New Legacy") shows, these small and midsize companies aren't afraid to build the software themselves if they don't like or can't afford what's out there.

Stephanie Stahl
Editor
sstahl@cmp.com


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