April 7, 2005
 



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Posted: 04.05.05

From the Desk of Teresa von Fuchs: The Miseducation of the SMB

Although Mobile Enterprise has not typically followed trends in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market, over the last six months there has been a flurry of activity that is hard to ignore. Late last year reports started coming in about wireless spending on the rise for the SMB. One from the Yankee Group in mid October confirmed the research and analysis firmís early predictions that wireless spending was on the serious uptake for SMBs. And even reports as recent as last month spell out that IT and communications spending at SMBs will rise 6 to 8 percent in this year.
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By Teresa von Fuchs




While vendors work hard to position themselves to cater to this market, I had a conversation with one recently who had a gripe I thought should be heard. Paul Giobbi, president of Zumasys, a national wireless solution provider with a lot invested in the SMB market, thinks there is a big opportunity to educate SMBs about the latest upgrades to wireless networking but questions why integrators aren’t doing their fair share to evangelize the message.

“True 3G wireless is finally here, but the general integrator channel still is not adopting the technology in any meaningful sense,” says Giobbi. “Once people try 3G they love it and they wouldn’t ever think of searching for a Wi-Fi hotspot again. But the problem is that there are users who don’t even know that 3G exists in most cases, which is unfortunate.” Giobbi believes this knowledge gap exists for a couple of reasons. One is that integrators aren’t really taking the time to expose their SMB customers to this technology. He believes “many resellers have EV-DO service but they don’t bother using it on a sales call to demo their wares.” Giobbi also credits industry marketing campaigns for making wireless “synonymous with Wi-Fi.” I don’t think that chain cafes rapid adoption of the technology has hurt public awareness any either. “But,” as Giobbi points out, “that leaves out WWAN technologies like 3G.” And finally, the marketing for these services is often unclear to possible business buyers, in that each carrier has a different name for it, like BroadbandAccess or PCS Vision.

So with a little help from their friends (the likes of Qualcomm and Citrix) Giobbi and Zumasys have started a series of 3G Wireless road shows. The idea behind these educational shows is to promote already available products and services (by Zumasys and others) by simply showing the SMB community how mobile access can easily increase productivity and how simple and fast today’s wireless solutions really are. “We find that when we show an SMB their existing applications running through a browser (through Citrix and Microsoft Windows 2003 Server) most of them want to buy on the spot.”

Judging by Giobbi’s genuine frustration at the lack of information being offered to the SMBs about the current wireless market, I don’t think instant sales are all he’s after. But I bet they wouldn’t hurt.

If you’re interested in the Road Shows check out www.zumasysonline.com/events/. And if there isn’t one near you write to Giobbi ([email protected]) to find out why.






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