Topping Up Your Order Book

Siracom’s sales director Rob Leggett names his three hot tips to boost new business sales in the coming year

“In the current economic climate, it doesn’t matter whether your proverbial glass is half full or half empty. The most important question is: how are you going to top it up? To continue the analogy, if your usual barrel has run dry, it may be time to try a new tipple, in a new bar.

Here are what I believe to be three recession-proof opportunities, and for each a technology which, with the right support, VARs can tap into, by building on their existing skills and experience.

Mr Brown’s Magic Purse

Schools and colleges are now using “Mr. Brown’s Magic Purse” to deploy laptops and sub-notebook PCs to students, a class, a year or a school at a time, which means high densities of users requiring simultaneous access to bandwidth-hungry applications over wireless networks. The current generation of wireless LAN infrastructure is not well suited to this.

These establishments need to upgrade to higher-speed more intelligent wireless or their investment in PCs will be wasted. This means a real demand for 802.11n, the new wireless standard that offers a tenfold increase in performance. VARs should watch out for issues with backwards compatibility and channel interference – both of which are simply overcome with the right equipment.

Digital Switchover: the “must spend” event.

The second issue that will be hot in 2009 is digital TV. Starting now, by 2012 the UK will have completely turned off analogue TV and gone digital. For most households, the switch will be a simple case of hooking up a FreeView box, a new TV or Sky. However it’s not as simple for those in hotels, sports and leisure facilities or multi-tenant buildings (which make up 20% of all UK housing stock).

These buildings would ordinarily need costly, time-consuming and inconvenient re-cabling to support digital TV. Transmitting data over existing coaxial cabling with new network devices enables cost-effective deployment of IPTV. What’s more, it has a greater tolerance to poor line quality than digital TV, so existing coax may be used to deliver IP in places where TV was previously inaccessible.

Where coax cabling isn’t available, the same devices enable data to be transmitted over two-wire, meaning IPTV can be delivered over the building’s existing telephone wires.

This existing infrastructure, can be used to make other revenue generating digital services available to residents and guests, such as web access, VoIP, digital signage, and gaming.

Prudence Saves the Earth

The third opportunity that’s worth investigating is videoconferencing. Last year, it was the green thing to do. However, this year businesses are looking to slash travel budgets and help employees be more efficient. A far more compelling argument.

However, businesses will only use videoconferencing if the quality is good enough and if the systems and bandwidth are cost effective. Latest-generation systems now provide full HD (1080p) video. They can run at 60 frames per second, and provide 720p videoconferencing over broadband connections.

This specification not only provides excellent quality, but is also easy to cost-justify, as a 720p HD system is cheaper to buy and deploy than a business class return to San Francisco. The technology is fast reaching critical mass, where enough businesses have it to make it useful. The tipping point may well be reached in 2009 with the availability of wireless business telephony handsets that feature in-built videoconferencing capability.

If it all seems daunting, then working with the right partner can help overcome the barriers of entry into these sectors. By choosing a distribution partner with the reference accounts, system design expertise, implementation and post sales support, you minimise the risks associated with first time deployments of new products and services into key customers.

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