In many countries across Europe, recovery has been largely attributed to midmarket success. In the UK, for example, throughout the recession the sector bucked the economy's negative growth trend and since then has continued to outperform the rest of the economy. Meanwhile, in Germany the famed Mittelstand is the main 'stoker' of its economic firepower. Even countries not particularly known for their midmarket, like France, Italy and Spain, have seen a jump in performance. Research from GE Capital predicts that the Italian midmarket will employ a further 74,000 people this year and the French midmarket will contribute nearly €49bn to its economy moving forward. The European midmarket is clearly buoyant, but to what can this be attributed?
A key characteristic for midmarket companies in general is a focus on growth and innovation. They are inherently more nimble than their larger competitors. They are also more adept at meeting change quickly and consequently can thrive even in the toughest environments. Yet they also have the resources and infrastructure in place to withstand market conditions that their smaller rivals may find challenging.
In a text-book virtuous circle, these attributes and the millennial generation are together helping fuel midmarket prowess. Generations Y and Z, used to the luxury of choice, instant information and quick decisions, are attracted to the more agile, innovative and less corporate midmarket companies, with many marking them as their first choice employers. The influx of fresh-thinking young people is in turn keeping midmarket businesses on their toes. In fact these millennials are now helping midmarket companies to be increasingly innovative and agile and therefore to attract even more millennial employees. And so the circle continues.
Should this come as a surprise? As a global technology company with a focus on the midmarket, we too have witnessed this phenomenon first hand and seen its growing impact on the technology market in general, and our business in particular. I am constantly delighted by the way our younger employees interact and engage with our customers, partners and prospects - it's amazing how you can redefine what's possible when people truly work together and deploy new sales channels, for example using social as a route into the customer.
Yet despite its huge potential and all of its positive attributes, the midmarket sits in an uncomfortable position when it comes to technology adoption. On the one hand, this market is highly sophisticated and millennials, with their personal experience of technology, are making it even more so; midmarket firms want what cutting edge enterprises want in terms of sophistication and they don't think they should have to sacrifice that just because they need to cater for 200 employees and not 2- or 20,000. On the other hand, they generally do not have the same budgets and have traditionally found that the functionality they require is out of reach.
Fortunately this is now changing. Solutions are increasingly being designed with the unique needs of the midmarket in mind, aimed at empowering these companies with simple, effective customer and employee engagement tools. Companies selling to the midmarket are taking a more consultative approach too. In addition, advances in cloud computing mean more cost-effective alternatives are available. Cloud's on-demand model requires almost no setup or capital expense. By using cloud infrastructure, midmarket organisations don't have to make a big capital leap with hardware upgrades as they expand. Cloud services also require less IT management and can be deployed quickly, all of which enable midsized businesses to compete more effectively.
The march of the midmarket across Europe show no signs of abating, particularly when we consider that in less than ten years millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. And at the same time, the EU continues to propose market reform that makes it easier for these businesses to operate. It's time for all of us to support this dynamic sector by recognising and meeting its very specific characteristics and needs.