It's a tough question to answer given the diversity in the buying community. Consider, for example, the classic definition of a midmarket company: an organization that employs 100 to 999 employees. Helpful, but not complete.
Not all customers, obviously, are alike. Take a law firm with 50 lawyers, 25 paralegals and secretaries, and a few support personnel. In one sense, an entity that size is not really a midmarket customer"too few employees. But its buying habits and IT needs are likely to be more akin to a midsize account than many organizations with a much greater head count. That includes a service company that may employ a few office personnel but hundreds of field employees who don't rely on computers, or a manufacturing company with a few hundred employees but only a handful of computers.
That's why Microsoft and others pay attention to the total number of IT personnel companies have or the total number of PCs or servers they maintain. One measure worth noting is the ratio of personnel to PCs. According to VARBusiness' exclusive 2004 State of Midmarket spending study, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of midmarket organizations have a 1-to-1 ratio of employees to computers. Roughly one-fifth have a 2-to-1 employee-to-computer ratio.
Intel, for one, emphasizes that its marketing efforts are geared toward target markets rather than customer sizes.
"We don't strongly differentiate between the small and medium-sized businesses in terms of our programs," says Steve Dallman, Intel's director of North American distribution and channel marketing. "[We look at] the businesses our resellers sell into, as opposed to the size."
That said, midmarket sales for Intel resellers could get a big boost from a massive marketing push planned for early October. The worldwide rollout is timed to coincide with Intel's semiannual channel conference, a 35-city tour that reaches about 10,000 resellers. The idea is to give these VARs blueprints for delivering turnkey Intel-based solutions that can be sold into medical, financial and other common market segments. The program will include reseller training and solutions guidance focused around the Intel architecture.
Fortunately, the economy looks like it will be able to support Intel's channel campaign. "We've [forecast] a fairly strong Q3 as a corporation, and I'm not seeing anything in the channel that would say anything different," Dallman says. He sees computer-upgrade activity kicking in, and the release of the 64-bit Xeon encouraging upgrades.