This Techcrunch guest post by Robert Scoble – in usual Scoble style – rants about a number of things but here’s what intrigued me:
Scoble notices that, nowadays, large cloud computing companies try to get affiliated with business professionals because they are the influencers that grant the large companies access to their main customer base. This customer base consists of small and very small businesses which constitute the so-called long-tail. This strategy is similar to the one the photography giant ‘Nikon’ has used in the past; they got affiliated with well known professional photographers and through them, they accessed the consumer mass.
That is where all the money and the action is – there’s plenty of reasons, proof and examples why this is so damn true. Scoble is just saying the obvious from one of the many possible perspectives but people have been talking about the real customers being in the long tail for years.
But it gets really interesting when you realize that this market force towards small, flexible and numerous is not only true for customers but also also for vendors. In other words, there is a long tail of business software vendors; business software is not offered by just a couple of large players anymore.
Small business software vendors are hidden in the long tail trying to stand out for you and offer you a new way to cover your needs. Moreover, with the current tools, the threshold for being able to offer a solution for a problem you have felt yourself is relatively low (at least compared to what it was in the past). This leads for many original approaches to sprout.
For example, solutions like NetSuite or other one-size fits all approaches may not be able to fit your specification without considerable expense either in customization or money. A not so large vendor though -let’s just use megaventory as the example- may have just the features you need; no more and no less.
The reason? Small vendors are small businesses themselves and can often understand much better what a fellow small business owner needs. It is the same as checking a blog to find the solution to a problem others might have already solved and shared. These days, online entrepreneurship is so broad that someone else is certain to have created almost exactly what your company needs.
So, if you commit to it, it’s comparatively easy to become a software vendor yourself and have a product out in a couple of years that can actually help people with a business itch similar to what you’d like to have scratched as well. In fact, that’s to some extent how megaventory came to being – but that’s a story for another post!
That approach has been going on for quite a few years now. When accompanied by quality, persistence and the fact that the offered solution is the labour of love of a team of market-savvy entrepreneurs, the odds of it being effective and value for money increase.
Taken together with the natural flexibility and reliability of relatively simple and small-scale systems, means that this new type of lean almost home-brewed vendor is probably the best option for a large number of small businesses.
The only thing that’s probably an obstacle is actually finding the right software for your specific profile in the long tail. But right now you know where to start – you can immediately check whether megaventory fit your needs or not!
Dimitris Athanasiadis oversees Operations and Customer Relations in Megaventory.