SMBs have many of the same wireless mobility needs as larger enterprises, but they have a number of additional challenges that must be overcome first.

As technology users become more mobile and connected, small to midsize businesses (SMBs) are facing many of the same wireless challenges and opportunities as their enterprise counterparts. Achieving these business goals can affect the workplace in a staggering way, as Cisco’s research shows. For example, 80% of business leaders agree that mobility enables employees to work anytime, anywhere and on any device. Additionally, 71% of business leaders say that mobility allows new revenue opportunities by providing customers with value-added access and services.

However, the positive effects that come with increased mobility and “going digital” are not enjoyed as frequently among SMBs as they are with larger organizations. According to a 2015 study conducted by Techaisle, for instance, the top challenges SMBs experience are:

  1. Total cost of ownership (46%)
  2. Ensuring compliance (44%)
  3. Integration with desktop, IT and communications infrastructure (37%)
  4. Finding a solution (36%)
  5. Finding suitable service providers (33%)

To fill SMBs’ wireless mobility needs, Cisco introduced Mobility Express Solution, which is designed to deliver enterprise class Wi-Fi for SMBs. This solution is different from many enterprise mobility offerings, which require lengthy configurations. Cisco Mobility Express allows users to configure the solution over the air via the Cisco Wireless app in less than 10 minutes’ time.

For SMBs in retail, education and hospitality that need faster mobility, this solution is a good fit. Plus, it allows guests and employees to use the same network without compromising the business’ security and authentication requirements.

Cisco bundles Mobility Express Solution into its 802.11ac Wave 2 access points (APs), which forward data at gigabit speeds and beyond. Each 1850 or 1830 Cisco Aironet AP comes with a virtual controller that allows admins to set up wireless LANs (WLANs) containing up to 25 APs and supporting up to 500 client devices in a matter of minutes.

The main benefit of a software-based WLAN controller is that it allows admins to configure, update and manage the AP infrastructure without having to configure and manage each AP individually. More than just lowering setup times, users gain access to other enterprise-grade features, such as location-based services.

In addition to the Mobility Express Solution, Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) is a complementary platform built on the Cisco Unified Access Infrastructure. CMX uses Wi-Fi to connect, detect and engage users. Retailers, for example, can use this context-aware solution to deliver personalized mobile services to their customers. Based on a user’s location, CMX can deliver informational updates, indoor maps, sales promotions or evacuation instructions. Additionally, location data can be analyzed to provide retailers with insights into the shopping habits of new and repeat customers.

Adam Davis, CEO, Next Dimension Inc