Alan Cane’s recent article in the FT, “Adding IT to the SME toolkit” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/df378cac-4a45-11dd-891a-000077b07658.html provides an interesting overview of the often difficult relationship between technology suppliers and small businesses. However, in defining a small business as one with 10 employees or more, he ignores the 70 percent of businesses in the UK who employ only the founder, and the further 25 percent who employ fewer than 10 people.
Our research with such businesses shows that many are indeed using technology to build strong market presence and to “punch above their weight”. However they are doing this through freely available online software such as Skype communications, YouTube videos, weblogs and RSS (really simple syndication) news and information feeds. This “freeware” strategy helps small companies avoid reliance on particular suppliers, as well as removing the expense, complexity and bureaucracy that tends to be associated with traditional IT systems.
What are your views? Should technology vendors be afraid of the growing power of ‘gifted amateurs’ punching above their weight with freeware?