SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Dropbox wants to raise $648 million in its IPO



Dropbox wants to raise as much as $648 million when it debuts on the stock market.

The cloud storage company is selling 36 million shares for between $16 and $18, according to a regulatory filing released Monday.

Based on the number of shares of eligible for sale, Dropbox would have a valuation of about $7.4 billion. That's lower than the $10 billion Dropbox was reportedly valued at on the private market.

If there's more investor demand for the stock, Dropbox could sell another five million shares to bring the total to $745 million. Salesforce's (CRM) venture arm has agreed to buy $100 million in shares.

Dropbox will list on the Nasdaq under the stock ticker DBX.

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Annual Look at IBM – Part One

I’ve just returned from IBM PartnerWorld (inside of the Think conference) and over the next several blogs, I’ll share my experiences. Long story short – I got hand it to IBM for inventing itself continuously and having crossed a decade+ in the analytics field. It declared that, in the IBM partner ecosystem, 2018 is the year of simplicity. I hear that three times: simple is hard! 

Concerning channel partners, there were four pillars messages to launch the PartnerWorld conferenceand it's 2,000+ attendees. 

Enabling ecosystem transformation. 
The basic premise that IBM is marking it easier for Business Partners who ibm john teltsch keynotecurrently resell IBM technology to shift between engagement models and move up the client value chain with flexible benefits and support through PartnerWorld, its premiere partner program. Simplification means IBM has consolidated the number of competencies offered and believes it’s added to relevancy to product authorization so that partners can get higher recognition. For those carrying the bag, here is how it works. To help partners get greater insights into their partner journey, IBM has added features to the Program Console and PartnerWorld Advisor. Additionally, IBM touted adding enhancements for partners that want to embed IBM technology into their solutions, including new bundled partner benefits and expanded SaaS trials, sandboxes, IBM Cloud credits and development assistance for those who want to build new solutions on IBM technology. Finally, IBM asserted it will continue to expand our marketing development funds, further aligning them to partners that are building new skills in areas like digital marketing so they can reach new clients across new routes and drive demand when they are ready to go to market. 

On the surface, this is all good but an interesting piece from well-known SMB Nation fan Jay McBain, now a analyst at Forrester, shared deep insights into the speed of partner transformation here.   He is well qualified to do so having spent 17-years inside IBM/Lenovo and the basic premise of Mcbain’s piece is that IBM is frustrated at the partner’s transformation pace. 

Another well-known analyst, Joe Panettieri (ChanelE2E), asserted that IBM is a humble bumble here. Panettieri correctly captures that “work in progress” spirit of the executive comments in his reporting. 

Three more pillars
As promised – here are the other three messaging pillars for your consumption. In Part II of my installment, I’ll share interviews with IBM executives Carola Cazenave (VP, IBM Global Business Partner – Ecosystem Strategy & Programs), John Teltsch Jr. (General Manager – Global Business Partners) and global build winner Paola Mazza (referenced below). In Part III of my coverage, I’ll share insights from IBM Business Partner QueBit and its success with analytics. 

  • Introducing Watson Build 2.0, the AI challenge to build new IP. The second iteration of our Watson Build challenge will help even more partners develop AI skills, build working prototypes of Watson-based solutions on the IBM Cloud in less than 10 months and incubate their ability to embed IBM technology faster. Last year, the first Watson Build challenge drew more than 1,300 firms to IBM design thinking workshops, spurred 400 AI-based business plans and enabled more than 100 partners to advance and develop new embedded AI solutions. Our 2017 global winner, Italian partner Blueit Group, took home the grand prize for its precision farming solution, which is designed to disrupt the agrifood industry. In phase 2, we expect even more partners to join the movement by dreaming up the next big prototype for their industry and make it a reality. 
  • Launching a new, digital self-service platform. Designed for partners who are building and selling solutions with integrated IBM technology, the platform provides access to leading-edge technologies and offers technical support, pre-built code patterns and skill-building courses. Partners can also take advantage of several promotional offers to help them get started building quickly with IBM Cloud, AI and data, including 10 TB of IBM Cloud Object storage, 100,000 conversations using IBM Watson Assistant and USD 50,000 in migration services for partners migrating over USD 20,000 per month in workloads from a competitor’s cloud. Once partners are ready to take their embedded solutions to market, they can list them on the IBM Marketplace and extend their reach to new clients globally. Businesses can further extend their access to resources by joining IBM developerWorks or by becoming a member of IBM PartnerWorld.
  • Expanding IBM's digital footprint with third-party cloud marketplaces. Over the past year, we have doubled down on IBM’s presence with third-party marketplaces and cloud aggregators. In 2018, we signed new deals with AppDirect and ALSO Deutschland GmbH, which means that partners and clients can now find IBM offerings in a total of 10 different cloud platforms and reach more than 60 million new customers worldwide. New and existing partners can reap the benefits of these new routes to market as new customers bundle IBM technologies with other complementary catalog offerings and partner services. This provides a new integrated route for partners to serve their clients digitally.

These new initiatives build on IBM’s next-generation ecosystem framework, which will go into effect April 10, 2018. As part of IBM’s increased commitment to its partners’ growth, IBM will launch a restructured engagement model designed to improve the end-to-end partner experience and reward partners for shifting to higher value solutions that are aligned to strategic growth areas like AI, cloud, security and as a service offerings. In the new model, partners have an opportunity to experience greater profitability by contributing value through intellectual property, focusing on new clients and building new solutions.

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Microsoft to unveil new Surface gear on October 31st

 It could include a new Surface Book, a Surface Pro LTE and more.

John Fingas, @jonfingas


Microsoft might not be done introducing new Surface hardware this year just because the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro are on store shelves. The company has confirmed that devices executive Panos Panay will be presenting at the company's two-day Future Decoded event (starting October 31st -- yes, Halloween), hinting that he'll introduce new hardware. A source speaking to The Verge supports this with word that there will be "at least one" new piece of hardware at the event, so it seems like Microsoft's habit of introducing new Surface machines in October will remain intact. As it stands, there are a few systems that could stand to get upgrades.

The most obvious candidate is the Surface Book. Microsoft introduced the current base model back in 2015, and the 2016 refresh ultimately amounted to a high-spec option rather than a true replacement. Provided the Surface Book line carries forward, it's due for new processors (8th-generation Core seems likely), new graphics and other tweaks that you'd expect after two years.

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ZLan Partners has joined the Sharp family

We are pleased to announce that, effective March 19, 2018, ZLan Partners has joined the Sharp family. 

As a newly created branch of Sharp Business Systems (SBS), the direct sales division of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (Sharp), ZLan ZlanPartners will operate under the new name of "ZLan Partners, a Sharp IT Company," and we will continue to provide our clients with network design, virtual CIO, cloud, IT security, and managed network services. In addition, we will also be supporting Sharp Business Systems operations in the Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati areas as well as around the country. 

To ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible, Sharp has offered to retain all of the employees from our ZLan team so that you continue to receive the highest quality of service, support, products, and solutions to meet your organization's needs. Rest assured, ZLan remains committed to providing seamless services to new and existing customers; we value our customer relationships dearly, and we will uphold the expectations of the finest service and support that ZLan has become known for. Ultimately, our goal is to enhance our relationship and your satisfaction by leveraging the capabilities of Sharp's technology and solutions. 

To that end, it is important to note that your local ZLan service, supply, sales, and administrative telephone numbers will remain the same. As always, our team is available every business day, Monday-Friday, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, and you can contact us at the same main number - 888.817.1115

Sharp is a global technology manufacturer of cutting edge electronics and a leader in the office equipment industry. Sharp's line of advanced office products and solutions have won numerous industry awards for their high levels of performance, connectivity, and security. In fact, the Sharp multifunction printer (MFP) product line has recently been awarded Pick Awards and Highly Recommended Ratings from Buyers Laboratory LLC (BLI), a world-wide and leading independent evaluator of document imaging products and solutions.  

The vision at Sharp Business Systems is to "solve the business challenges of our customers with innovative technology and solutions through local, caring people, and turn our customers into fans by exceeding their expectations." This is a vision we plan to fulfill with your organization and here is a glimpse of the great services and technologies you can now access via ZLan's acquisition by Sharp: 

  • Preventative maintenance programs for maximum equipment uptime
  • Offering award-winning MFPs engineered to help increase efficiency 
  • Managed Print Services to curb inefficiencies and expenses in your printer fleet 
  • Managed Network Service to proactively maintain the health of your IT infrastructure
  • Collaborative presentation tools such as our AQUOS BOARD®interactive display systems 
  • High impact professional LED monitors and multi-screen video wall display systems and digital signage• Document management and workflow software and much more ...  

We are excited about our continued partnership with you, and we look forward to addressing your IT and document management needs going forward. If you should have any immediate questions, please reach out to your ZLan Sales Account Manager. If you want to learn more about Sharp Business Systems, please visit our website at 

 Welcome to the Sharp Family!

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The Ultimate Comparison: Data Science vs Analytics

Data Science vs Analytics


Depending on how much you know about big data, you may be surprised to learn that a data scientist and a business analyst don’t provide the same results. If that’s the case, then you’re not alone—since these two professions are often confused with one another. That’s why Analytics@American, a masters in business analytics, created this infographic to help clear the data science fog.

Both business analysts and data scientists are experts in the use of data, but they use their expertise in different ways—as is evidenced by the current job outlook with business analysts in much higher demand than data scientists.

Typically with educational backgrounds in specialties like business and humanities, business analysts tap into the data within a variety of sources to evaluate past, present and future business performance. Then they explain those results to the business users who need them with the analytical models and approaches that are most effective for that situation.

In contrast—with a strong educational background in computer science, mathematics and technology— data scientists use statistical programming to actually develop the framework for gathering and using the data by creating and implementing algorithms that support their efforts. Such algorithms help with decision-making, data management, and the creation of visualizations to help explain the data that’s gathered.

To learn more about the differences between data scientists and business analysts, check out the infographic to make sure you’re hiring the right type of professional to meet your unique business needs.

analytics skills infographic lg

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