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How can Communication Service Providers (CSPs) address the SMB market?

Level 2

An interesting finding from the Internet Security Threat Report we issued last month concerns companies with 1-2,500 employees - variously grouped as the Small to Medium Business (SMB) sector - who are seeing the largest increase in targeted attacks. These attacks have already increased by 91% year on year; in addition, whereas 50% were aimed at SMBs in 2012, by 2013 the number had increased to 61%.

The clear suggestion - confirmed by other research we have done - is that the creators of such attacks are becoming smarter in terms of understanding how to profit from targeted attacks. As a result they are focusing less on bigger enterprises and more on smaller and mid-size companies, which often have less security countermeasures in place.

This begs the question - where are such organisations going to get help, and from whom? Communications Service Providers (CSPs) already offer services to the lucrative enterprise market; they also often bundle security capabilities with consumer connectivity packages.

However, the SMB market has been left somewhat untouched - a fact we have had confirmed by numerous analysts. This challenge also presents a great opportunity for CSPs, particularly as they look for 'low hanging fruit' services they can sell to SMBs - that is, ones with low incremental cost but with benefits beyond revenue, for example customer loyalty.

For CSPs, the job can be made simpler by integrating security offerings directly into cloud market places, so customers can shop for the services and bundles appropriate to their needs. For our part, for example, we have developed Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP).cloud - CSPs can integrate this cloud service directly, using service brokerage software from the likes of Parallels or AppDirect.

Email or Web security delivery can be dealt with in the same way, enabling CSPs to offer a full bundle of cloud-based security services among others. Adopting a marketplace approach takes the pressure off CSPs having to second-guess what their customers might want, enabling them to learn from the market as to what bundles make the most sense.

For a final statistic, a cloud services survey presented by Amdocs, at the Telco Cloud World Forum in Munich (28-30 April), stated that 74% of SMBs would prefer to buy services from a single service provider, but only 45% actually do so. The onus is on the CSPs to create the right bundles of core services and offer these in an easy to consume way, through their market places or other delivery methods. Those who succeed in doing so will best position themselves to serve the huge SMB market with essential services, not least security and information protection.