Large enterprises used to be the only businesses that needed managed Wi-Fi.
But now, as employees and customers get used to the speeds that come with fiber connections in more and more places, SMBs are feeling the pinch.
An MSP – or another type of solution provider looking to offer a managed service for the first time – should consider Wi-Fi. There is money to made. And contrary to popular belief, Wi-Fi at a business should not be treated the same way you set up a single router for your home network.
Our gallery has the 4-1-1 on planning, deploying and managing a wireless LAN.
**Source material by Kurt Marko**
Follow senior online managing editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter.
Fiber and the speeds that come with it are alluring. If a business owner and his or her employees can get a lightning-fast connection at home, they certainly don’t want to sloooooow down at work.
Does a business need managed Wi-Fi? The numbers reflect that.
Large enterprises aren’t the only businesses that should be turning to managed Wi-Fi anymore. SMBs increasingly need it to attract and retain mobile-savvy employees.
But installing a few consumer-grade access points and calling it a wireless LAN isn’t an option if you’re concerned about data security or signal interference. A channel partner can provide the expertise needed to design, deploy and manage a Wi-Fi network.
So where to start? Talk with the customer about what they’re looking for in a wireless LAN. Take a tour of their facility and closely eyeball their existing WAN and LAN infrastructure.
Solution providers: If you don’t have the expertise, skills and certifications to evaluate and install equipment at a variety of sites, partner with someone who does. You don’t want to have to explain to the customer why the installation of access points, switches and wiring got botched.
Getting the configuration right is crucial. A solution provider (or someone they’ve partnered with) can handle the network setup, configuration and connections to existing LANs. They also know when it’s the right time to upgrade the LAN to support wireless.
Keeping the network secure will be the most important part of maintaining it.
Here are a couple of key factors for a solution provider to consider when targeting clients for managed wireless service.
First, determine the customer’s expertise. Put simply, the less they know, the better candidate they are for end-to-end services. Dropping in and asking the Geek Squad how to do it probably isn’t the best option.
Next, figure out who the business has on staff capable of handling wireless network operations. That will help determine how much “management” they need.
That’s not all. More tips:
Know the customer’s budget. Upfront capital often is scarce for SMBs, so a complete technical and financial solution might be a good option. In this case, managed wireless services can offload administration overload. An equipment lease plan can spread the capital cost over the terms of the service agreement.
Learn the client’s network needs and what changes could be on the horizon. Will they hire more staff? Will they need a separate guest network before long? An MSP should have a range of services available, ranging from simple and inexpensive to flexible and high-end.
For a partner looking for an upsell opportunity (and why wouldn’t you be?), mobile-enabled location services are a great way to go, particularly for the retail, health-care and hospitality verticals. They’re all flooded with smartphone users.
MSPs that support multi-tenant sites (think large office buildings, convention centers, etc.), offering secure, managed Wi-Fi as an amenity is smart. Consumers want free Wi-Fi, so a WLAN with segregation of networking resources is a great opportunity for the facility’s owner.
What about analytics? Yep, that too. Explain to a client how they can use customer-behavior data to create a richer experience; it no doubt will mean more money in their pockets.
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