One of the biggest problems for both OEMs and the SMB market is that the SMB market, small to medium-sized businesses, lack the IT infrastructure to implement much of the technology they want to acquire. SMB companies also represent significantly less revenue per sale than enterprise-class companies, which creates an ugly problem. The need for more sales and service support but without the revenue to fund it at scale.
Let’s look at that this week.
Small Business Problem
Small and medium companies, also referred to as small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), have several unique problems. One is that they typically don’t have the staff to create even a tiny IT department. When they do, that person or group is spread so thinly they are unable to keep up with the firm’s support and customer needs. This staff shortcoming means this segment needs a solution that comes with management help built-in. And that is what Cisco just launched.
Meraki Go is a relatively complete line of powerful networking products specifically designed for small and medium businesses. This focus means the line is designed to work in shops that don’t have an IT team to implement or adapt the solution to end-user needs.
They get there by providing a set of cloud app-based services that provide not only information-rich business insights, but a substantial amount of remote automated control over the network. At the heart of this solution is the user-focused Meraki Go mobile app. This app, after an easy 10-minute installation process requiring no IT experience, provides control and management over a variety of hardware ranging from Wi-Fi access points and network switches, to a security gateway.
Especially important is the fact this isn’t a one-size-fits-all service. Understanding that every business is unique, Cisco believed that one way to stand out from the competition was to make it configurable to match the needs of the business. In this case, however, that capability had to come with substantial assistance because the target audience, as noted, doesn’t have an IT shop.
With built-in, easy to follow visual instructions and a support team that will respond from within the app, this may be one of the easiest to use business-class solutions ever conceived. This ease of use focus means that—with a minimum of overhead and little or no training—an SMB can have similar capabilities to an enterprise (which, I expect, is going have a few enterprises looking for similar solutions).
Small and medium businesses often have more problems, due to the lack of trained IT staff, with user complaints, badly performing apps, and customers providing bad reviews due to their experiences using the network. The automated and easy to use tools allow these SMB companies to avoid many of these problems and rapidly address others to ensure a user experience that many enterprises would envy.
The app is free, and the individual components like access points, both inside and out, switches, and gateways all individually cost under $250 (sometimes well under), making them a bargain when compared to your typical enterprise-class solutions.
So the result isn’t just easy to use; it is inexpensive to implement.
Small businesses don’t have the resources to manage their network that large companies enjoy. Realizing this, Cisco developed a cloud-managed solution for this segment that is extremely easy to use and very reasonably priced. This solution is arguably the easiest to use and most aggressively priced SMB solution from an enterprise-class vendor I’ve ever seen.
I also expect this represents the likely future of most solutions like this because with the advancements in AI and cloud capability there is no reason why every solution couldn’t eventually be this easy to implement and manage. Cisco is plowing this field hard; I expect we’ll see even more progress from them in this regard in the future.
It strikes me that for those of us that run businesses out of our home and don’t like doing tech support, this might be ideal for us as well.