Nelson Qiao, assistant general manager at TP-LINK UK, says resellers can make a real difference in the wireless space in this opinion piece.
The current Greek debt crisis underlines the quiet but keen role played by economies around the world in all our lives.
The UK for example is now a very business-minded nation, an awful lot of us now run a business: from internet start-ups with grand ambitions, to selling unused clothes online to help pay the bills.
It’s the tremendous, transformative power of the internet that means increasing numbers of people are “Lord Sugars” of their own empires, providing goods and services direct, reaching global markets from their bedroom.
Because business relies on bandwidth, it’s a fantastic opportunity for the UK channel to provide the products and expertise these budding Richard Bransons need to reach the next level.
The numbers are staggering. There are currently over 5.2m private sector small businesses in the UK, the majority of which (over 99 per cent), employ 49 people or less, with a combined annual turnover of £1.2 trillion, according to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
The number of sole traders have increased by more than seven per cent from 2013 to 2014 and account for over 75 per cent of businesses registered for VAT/PAYE, it calculates.
For this sector, performance is paramount. The UK continues to have the highest penetration of mobile broadband connections compared with Germany, France, Italy and Spain, according to Ofcom. The UK’s WLAN market, already worth around £250 million, is expected to grow by 20 per cent this year.
The 802.11ac standard has brought speeds generally three times faster than its predecessor ‘Wireless N’, while the advent of beamforming technology enables routers to detect connected devices and focus the signal onto them, even over long distances.
There is now no reason for SMEs to go down the more expensive and less convenient wired route when wireless is this fast, or this stable.
However, some companies remain unconvinced by wireless, mostly because of outdated fears over dropping, patchy, coverage or security issues. This is where VARs make a real difference, by helping companies select the right routers and access points to perfectly match their needs and optimise the network in their particular space.
A timely word of advice from a VAR will always be remembered, and will foster customer loyalty.
Network security fears, particularly for companies wanting to protect their own intellectual property, or that of customers, can also be alleviated by showing them how to separate networks for visitors and guests, or by confining business critical access to trusted employees only, for example.
For many small and medium-sized businesses, ensuring Wi-Fi access for employees and visitors is a serious KPI.
Many now see Wi-Fi as a way of empowering members of the team through the rise of BYOD and the associated productivity apps like Evernote, Dropbox and 1Password.
In fact, 47 per cent of UK workers now use their own devices at the office a trend that is set to grow according to a global Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) report suggesting that the worldwide market will be worth £170 billion by 2019.
While many of us are comfortable using a mobile screen, many company owners shudder at the thought of employees and contractors accessing large amounts of corporate data from branch offices or from home. Here VARs can again step in, by recommending VPN switches that block certain websites or apps or restrict some users to simple mail, for example.
As the number of PCs sold to developed economies continues to fall, SME and SoHo businesses will have no option but to confront the structural shift towards hand held devices. VARs have a golden opportunity to help small companies capitalise on the mobile working revolution and secure loyal, potentially repeat Wi-FI customers as they continue to thrive.
About the author
Nelson Qiao is assistant general manager at TP-LINK UK.