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"I think this study gives the channel some answers in terms of finding out what their customers are knowledgeable about, what gaps the channel can help small businesses with, and how the channel can extend their value into small businesses," he said.
As Lenovo's director of small and medium business, McBain said he spends virtually all of his time with SMBs and the channel, and has gathered feedback from thousands of channel partners over the years.
He said channel partners can strengthen the opportunity with the customer by "breaking into" their business and making their services stick.
"Once you break into a new customer based on a problem, there's the stickiness factor -- the ability to broaden your services to the customer," he said. "MSPs have been successful at doing that, as opposed to just being the tech guy that shows up when things break.
"Then the customers can start looking at the channel as the IT shop, as the price pressure and the quoting and the RSPs go away from and the transactional behavior of the customer turns into a business relationship model with the customer," McBain said. "It's not about ripping out what they already have, just adding to it with something new."
Many SMBs already have mobile devices but could use additional technologies and improved designs. According to the survey, 40 percent of SMBs have desktops. However, 85 percent of SMBs conduct work outside of the office, while 72 percent rarely take an e-mail free vacation. The majority prefer laptops to run their businesses in order to keep up with their hefty workload, McBain said. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said laptops were their preferred device and 31 percent said they preferred smartphones.
"The 9 to 5 workday is turning into a thing of the past," McBain said. "There's a high level of mobility within small business."
McBain said the laptop becomes an extension of the business. Seventy percent of respondents agreed that the appearance of a laptop issued by a small business is a reflection of the company.
"They agreed that the appearance of a laptop is a reflection of what they do. Having a laptop with a cracked case or a multicolored notebook may cause customers to make subliminal judgments," McBain said.
Due to the increase in mobility among SMBs and the relevance of design and appearance, McBain said Lenovo has created a middle ground for small businesses with the Think Pad Edge. The Edge combines the classic durability, security and simple black design of the Think Pad line which Lenovo acquired from IBM in 2005, with audio/video capabilities, blu-ray, HDMI output, and other features typically found in consumer notebooks.