It should come as no surprise that the SMB (small to midsize business) market (fewer than 500 employees) is a hotbed for mobile computing and WLAN (wireless LAN) products. Like their larger counterparts, these companies seek the productivity increases, conveniences, and cost savings wireless has to offer. "According to analysts, there are approximately 7.7 million SMBs in the United States," says Manju Mahishi, senior product manager with Symbol Technologies' Wireless Infrastructure Division. "The growth in the SMB market has been fueled by several factors, including the general economic instability and downsizing of large corporations, outsourcing of manufacturing to smaller companies, and growth in the services sector. In reference to wireless infrastructure products, SMBs are looking for products that offer scalability, enterprise-class security, integration of key networking functionality, ease-of-use, and remote management capabilities -- all at a low total cost of ownership."
Mahishi adds that recent trends in the SMB market indicate the business owners are the final decision makers for technology purchases. But, VARs play a key role in SMBs' technology decision-making processes. SMBs depend on VARs to fulfill products and offer expert wireless advice. That advice -- or value-added service -- is the real profit center for VARs and integrators selling any size or form of WLAN. For instance, site surveys have always been a high margin (as compared to the hardware) service offered by the channel. But site survey expertise is common now, and often this functionality is offered via software from the access point (AP) vendor. You may want to consider enhancing your site survey expertise by adding some of the virtual WLAN modeling/planning tools available from companies such as Wireless Valley or Trapeze Networks. In addition, remote WLAN monitoring/configuration software is bound to get the attention of those SMB owners with limited IT resources. Those customers will like having the ability to view every mobile device on a WLAN and identify any problems all from one location. Companies like Wavelink, and now even Symbol with its new Mobility Services Suite, offer this kind of software.
The SMB market has wireless needs that range from hot spots in hotels to voice/data WLANs in insurance agencies. How will you tap into this lucrative market?