In 1973, a brilliant economist named E.F. Schumacher wrote a seminal book titled “Small is Beautiful” about the advantages of smaller companies and smaller scales of production. In an age where the common wisdom is to scale up to be more efficient and profitable, it’s interesting to pause and think about some of the possible advantages of smaller companies.
In every industry or market that exists in the world today, you’re likely to find a difference in size between companies. Whether it’s a global retail chain versus a small family-owned store, a corporate restaurant chain versus a mom and pop diner or a small bed and breakfast versus a large hotel chain — each side of the coin presents unique characteristics and advantages. While Schumacher was concerned with the large global impacts of scale on people, the environment and profitability, we’ll simply look at some implications for products and services.
In the security industry, differences in the sizes of manufacturers could have salient implications for the quality and type of the products and services. All too often, customers are drawn to products from large enterprises, as the big names typically imply stability and extensive product offerings. And that’s not to say that it’s unwarranted; one could argue that larger companies have more resources for product development and likely possess the combined expertise and experience to provide a wide range of solutions.
But the value that a manufacturer’s products and services can bring isn’t necessarily directly related to or dependent on its size, as there are a variety of aspects where smaller manufacturers can succeed:
- Agility. Smaller, niche market companies have the ability to meet the specific demands of customers with more of a personal touch. For bigger companies, it takes a large amount of business for them to consider any changes, while smaller companies have more flexibility.
- Customer service. Customers’ perceptions of a product’s quality are influenced by the quality of support, and smaller manufacturers often possess a strong, motivated customer service team that can be relatively more responsive to customers of all sizes, not just the large ones. A superior level of support generally translates into high marks on customer satisfaction, since customers’ issues with the products can be resolved promptly.
- Innovation. In general, smaller companies’ products often have to be as good or better than others to be competitive in the marketplace. They are often more innovative, bringing to the market novel technologies and solutions. Larger companies tend to be more risk-averse.
It’s important for all players in the security industry to remember that the commitment and dedication to product quality can be found in companies of all sizes. Large manufacturers may catch your eye, but small business shouldn’t be forgotten, as they can offer end users a robust set of attributes and benefits.