My life as a mid-sized company

Panelists on a Webcast agreed the business existence of the middle child is full of hurdles and opportunities.

Vancouver-based Pivotal Corp. hosted a roundtable on Wednesday with representatives from Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGE&Y), the University of Baltimore (UB) and Somera Communications.

Peter Blair is the vice-president of IT at Somera, a telecommunications solutions company, in Santa Barbara, Calif. He said the differences between mid-size and large companies is reflected in the software industry.

“”If you’re a big company and you buy something that’s wrong, you just chuck it. No problem. But if you’re a small company, just to get those dollars in the first place is hard. The well isn’t as deep,”” Blair said.

But getting a vendor to notice non-enterprise class customers is often challenge. Blair said it sent a request for proposal for a customer relationship management (CRM) system to 15 vendors, many of which didn’t bother to respond.

Jeff Halden, vice-president of CRM practice at CGE&Y, said vendor response is closely linked to the state of the economy. “”If the big deals aren’t out there then they’ve got to scramble and work harder to replace that revenue stream.””

UB professor of economics Zoltan Acs says software is a tricky issue for growing companies. He says shrink wrap software fills the needs for most small companies, but as a firm grows its needs become more sophisticated. “”One big mistake (buying software) and you’re out of business,”” he warned.

“”These are technology decisions that we’re making that we’re going to live with for 10 years, we want to make sure they’re right and they bring benefit to the business. You need that immediate benefit, but you also need to think about scalability,”” added Blair.

CRM is one of those make or break technologies and Blair says this is the perfect time for the project.

“”We think it’s a great time to invest because when the markets do come back around we want to be ready to be able scale with the market and meet the demand we think is going to be there,”” Blair said.

While some are waiting for clearer economic skies, Acs says market conditions aren’t as bad as the media would have you believe and the economy could take off in six months to a year.

More than software separates mid-size companies from their bigger and smaller siblings.

“”CEOs at mid-size companies have to be very good at driving a growth agenda. And that means focusing on the customer, getting to market, building a value Web of synergistic relationships and it means building adaptable technology,”” Halden says.

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