Letter to the Editor

Published: September 30th, 2004

Re: Enterprise resized(Sept. 15)

I am the former executive CIO/PCO of a $15-billion Canadian consumer goods and services company. Semi-retired today, I devote a meaningful portion of my personal

time (without charge) listening to and advising small and medium-sized companies with regard to the potential benefits of emerging technologies and on how to squeeze every last ounce of benefit from their existing IT systems.

That said, I have read and re-read your otherwise excellent article, Enterprise Resized (Sept. 15) several times and either I have completely missed the boat (which is entirely possible) and I have come away without any palpable feeling that the various authors have made a significant effort to understand the culture of SMBs. Nowhere is there any empathy for the fact that most SMBs are family businesses. In the province of Québec, where I live, roughly 84 per cent of our employment base works within SMBs with 35 or fewer employees.

To the owner of an SMB, his business is his inheritance to his children, it is his pension. (The male gender is used in this text for the purposes of simplification only.) What it is NOT is a small business not worthy of the attention of the professional knowledge that is most regularly available through dealing with multi-million dollar IT solution providers. I have yet to meet the owner of an SMB that does not mention the word “”risk”” within the second or third sentence during a discussion related to change management associated with a potential introduction of an emerging technology into the infrastructure of his business.

God bless the SMB owner. He has his priories straight. His needs are simple. But there is little or no appreciation for the culture that surrounds those needs. If I had a mini-SAP, down sized by an intelligent steering committee and tailored to the SMB’s needs I could sell 150,000 copies in the next three years in Québec alone. I’ll leave the arithmetic to you. How many copies of full-blown versions of SAP will be sold in the same period and how many man-years will be required before the potential benefits are harvested?

Great article. Too bad it missed the point as to the culture that is associated with successful SMBs and the viewpoint of the owner/operator. No major software supplier representative would last 10 seconds seated in front of the owner of a potential SMB client — he just doesn’t understand the value of culture. The concept is simply that complex.

Paul Finlayson

Technologie Fintech

Contact smbeditor@itbusiness.ca

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