The morning session at the Tech Adoption Summit was a mix of content demonstrating an energetic balance of both art and science in moving SMBs into a more robust implementation of technology.

The morning started with a presentation by Tolithia Kornweibel, Marketing Head (with the DNA of an evangelist) of Gusto, a “challenger brand” in the payroll, benefits and HR space. She emphasized the importance for SMB tech vendors bringing passion and authenticity to their involvement with SMBs.

Gusto’s approach to dealing with SMBs is driven by the view that HR is the key to the success of an SMB. Gusto sees its mission as helping the SMB attract the best employees and create the best possible environment in which they can succeed.
By contrast, the next two presenters brought more analytical and empirically-driven lenses to the same objective of boosting SMB participation in technology in general, and cloud technologies in particular.

Wasim Khan of Xerox Digital Solutions (General Manager of Xerox’s Docushare), dissected the movement of SMBs away from paper-based systems to digital systems. He highlighted the role of AI in facilitating this migration, as well as the move to platform interoperability via API connectivity. (To keep this presentation in context, Wasim acknowledged that Xerox defines SMBs as businesses with up to 1,000 employees, 10 times the size of the SMBs Gusto focuses on).

Next, Adam Blake, CMO and GM of SaaS, ThriveHive (a Gatehouse Media subsidiary) presented a data-supported thesis about the inexorable rise in CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) for both B2B and B2C providers – up 50% in the last five years. He maintained that the best way to combat this dismal dynamic is to implement a PQL (Produce Qualified Lead) approach to marketing and sales, as distinct from a more traditional MQL (Market Qualified Lead) approach. Adam identified the key aspects of a PQL approach, one of them being a thoughtfully-implemented freemium model that includes an unusually robust free version.