Hitting Redial: Major Players Adapt To SMB Mobility Needs

Flashy smartphones were once considered toys for enterprise executives, but several major names in mobility are adapting their styles and recognizing that the SMB now has the same, if not more, mobile needs as their larger counterparts.

With that in mind, a host of mobility players are targeting the SMB space with solutions catered to their specific needs, and VARs are realizing that mobile solutions are top of mind for their smaller clients.

"Companies have gone out and researched these technologies," said Joe Brown, president of Accelera Solutions Inc., a Falls Church, Va.-based solution provider. "They ask us: What do we do about mobile users?"

Accelera offers solutions that enable mobile application delivery through Citrix Systems Inc. solutions. And while Accelera deals with everything from large enterprises to federal agencies, Brown said SMBs are really starting to gobble up mobility.

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The problem is smaller companies have very limited IT resources that are already struggling to handle the number of projects on their plate, and oftentimes mobility solutions can be perceived as having too many moving parts and being too expensive.

Steve Beauregard, president of Santa Clara, Calif.-based mobility solution provider Regard Solutions Corp., said he has yet to notice a large uptake of mobility solutions in the SMB, but he said there is certainly potential there.

"It's definitely accelerated a little bit," he said, but noted that many SMBs avoid corporate mobility applications in favor of more consumer-focused applications.

Along with Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix, other marquee vendors are targeting the SMB in hopes that they go forth and go mobile.

Next: Getting Up To Date With Mobility

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) is also working to get small customers up to date with mobility. While BlackBerry may be most known for its line of enterprise smartphones, the company offers a wide swath of solutions to give SMBs a wireless communications edge.

For example, BlackBerry Professional Software offers wireless communications and collaboration catered specifically to small and midsize companies.

According to Toronto-based RIM, Professional Software offers mobility to up to 30 users and the software doesn't require any additional servers; instead it can be loaded onto an Exchange or Lotus server to deliver mobility without the additional overhead. Like BlackBerry's Enterprise Server, it features up to 400 IT policies, but they are simpler to apply in the SMB form.

"We're very focused on the small to medium business," said Mark Amszej, director of channel product management for RIM. "It's a very large market for us."

BlackBerry professional software, which was released late last year, is tailored specifically to the SMB for simplicity.

"They really don't have a lot of time for managing and installing mobility solutions," he said.

For SMBs, productivity and competitiveness have become strong drivers for mobility solutions, Accelera's Brown said. And Amszej agreed.

"Productivity jumps to the top of it," he said, outlining reasons SMBs are looking to go mobile. "They're battling for more customers and those customers are more demanding."

Overall, he said, SMBs are looking to mobility to boost productivity, responsiveness and competitiveness.

And as SMBs consider more mobility options, resellers are becoming more important to RIM's SMB strategy. Amszej said RIM relies on its channel to answer two important questions for the SMB segment: "Why do we really need mobility?" and "What's it going to offer us?"

The trick when dealing with SMBs is that resellers lay out the value proposition. SMBs are relying on resellers for high-touch engagements, making the channel more critical in their decision-making process.

Amszej, like Beauregard, said a number of SMBs were relying on consumer applications as part of their mobility plans, but are starting to move to a more structured environment.

Still, like all emerging technologies, some SMBs may be hesitant to deploy a true mobility solution. Amszej said many SMBs are unaware that certain solutions are available for their size and price point.