The will soon be as many as 200 million small and medium-sized businesses globally, representing the best opportunity for Wi-Fi vendors and service providers.
ABI Research says that unlike large enterprises, SMBs – classified as having between five and 99 employees – tend to buy equipment out of current operating cash flow, not capital funds – an important factor given the current economic doldrums.
ABI says therefore, this SMB market, which has not adopted 802.11 network solutions to a great degree, provides a golden opportunity for Wi-Fi. In some regions, 99 percent of all businesses are classed as “small-medium.”
“Despite the present economic downturn, this is a hot market,” says ABI vice president Stan Schatt. “But SMBs have very particular needs and characteristics, and vendors wishing to serve this market need to pay close attention to them.”
Part of the solution is finding the right channel to reach these customers. Says Schatt: “Many small business owners are not tech-savvy and will favor a sales environment that provides customer education and support.” That means channel partners definitely have a role to play.
Managers of SMBs are also particular about choosing equipment designed for their specific needs. They don’t want a “shrunken” version of a system intended for a large enterprise. Cisco learned this to its cost during its first foray into this market, and has now re-addressed the demand with products designed from the start for the SMB, Schatt said.
It’s also important to keep in mind that SMB owners are emphatic about the need for physical security but are less knowledgeable about electronic threats. Their lack of security expertise means a greater opportunity for vendors of managed services.