We are all rapidly becoming accustomed to having wireless connectivity wherever we go. As a result, we are becoming more dependent on wireless connectivity. Which means it can be pretty damn frustrating when you don’t have it. While I think that dependence is a little sad, I’m not crying myself to sleep. In fact, it creates some great opportunities for wireless vendors and resellers alike.
New and improved technologies such as 802.11n, Power over Ethernet (PoE), combined bridge/access points and SNMP (simple network management protocol) management all support advanced wireless solutions capable of meeting increasing wireless connectivity demands. These solutions are now within the budgetary reach of organisations of all sizes – from small businesses to large enterprises and government organisations.
I see two major opportunities for resellers. The first is for experienced resellers to market advanced wireless solutions to new and existing customers, many of which are struggling to meet the demand for wireless connectivity. The second is for resellers who have not specialised in wireless solutions before to improve their levels of expertise and – with the support of their wireless vendor – generate an additional revenue stream from their existing customers.
That said, you have to look for the low-hanging fruit. Just because we have a newly ratified 802.11n standard, it doesn’t mean that customers with older 802.11g infrastructure will automatically want to upgrade. The global financial crisis may have eased, but spending is still restrained and you have to demonstrate a sound business case. Many organisations will stick with 802.11g solutions for now, but if range and performance are a pressing issue, then 802.11n has a lot to recommend itself by.
However, many customers have still not made the leap to business-grade wireless solutions. They may have areas of wireless connectivity based on consumer grade technology, but they cannot support seamless roaming between access points. Or they may be coming to the realisation – with the help of their reseller – that their consumer-based wireless solutions are unreliable, insecure or overly time consuming to support. These are customers you should definitely be talking to.
Resellers will always be in a better position than vendors to understand what a customer’s requirements are. If a reseller understands a particular vertical – such as education, where we are seeing huge growth in wireless – it is a much easier sale to make. But when it comes to recommending the best technical solution, vendors have a bit of an advantage. No reseller, not even the largest, most technically certified systems integrator, knows the vendor’s products better than they do.
Too often solutions are recommended without a detailed understanding of site-specific technical constraints, and without the expert product knowledge required to maximise the customer’s value for money. Too often, vendors get involved in recommending solutions “site unseen” and relying totally on reseller input.
There is a better way, which I believe starts with a detailed site survey where the reseller invites the vendor onsite prior to recommending the best wireless solution to a customer. I’m not just talking about big enterprise and government deals here. I am also talking about the vendor going out to smaller organisations like schools or hotels and motels to size things up.
With a detailed site survey, the vendor can fully understand the geography of the site and factors like visible and electro-mechanical interference that affect wireless range and performance. And because they also understand the strengths and limitations of their own products, they can eliminate any embarrassing issues that can arise when the wrong equipment is recommended. A site survey also sends a strong message to the customer that the vendor will stand behind the solution and their reseller partner.