We often focus on the drama of the big companies, but a number of smaller companies are providing top-notch products and services — particularly in the small to midsize business (SMB) area, which we often forget. I figured it would be interesting to talk about some of them this week and maybe point you to a few technology providers that could help your business, but that may not be on your radar.
In no particular order, here is my list:
Ruckus Wireless is an impressive company that provides a relatively unique wireless networking solution. If you are in a crowded area and Wi-Fi works, chances are it is because Ruckus is the technology provider behind the access points. What brought the company to mind is that I just got the notice that it has again taken top honors for the Networking Hardware for SMBs category in CRN’s 2014 survey-based annual report. Ruckus Wireless was preferred by the 2,500 service providers surveyed. If you need Wi-Fi access for a large number of people on a single access point, this company, or one of its resellers, likely should be your first stop.
If you need a phone solution for a small business or home office that is cost-effective, Ooma is likely your best choice. The company offers a full feature set for a minimal fee, which includes voicemail, a virtual receptionist, extension dialing, call logging, caller-ID with name, unlimited U.S. and Canadian calling, ring groups, music on hold, conference bridge, virtual extensions (for mobile workers), and very low VoIP international rates, among other things. I know a number of folks that have Ooma in their homes and small businesses and they rave about this solution which, since phone solutions tend to draw more criticism than praise, is a showcase for how good this service really is. Even if you don’t need a service for business, you may want to consider the home solution, which has similar capabilities and is even more aggressively priced.
I’ve been working with Ombud for some time. It was started as an alternative to Gartner that uses your own internal experts rather than an external service to better measure and track how your vendors are doing. This tracking makes all the difference in the world when you are doing vendor selection. It helps you ensure that the vendors that have your back are rewarded with more business, while the ones that constantly let you down are identified and removed so they are no longer a plague on your company. This service institutionalizes, puts measurements behind vendor performance, and assures that your company gets what it is paying for across all business areas.
Matterport converts the real into the virtual so that you can explore an environment without traveling. It has a specialized camera and cloud service, which allows you to scan any structure inside and out and convert it into an accurately rendered 3D virtual space. This could be ideal if you are considering several new buildings, remodeling existing structures, or simply want to regularly look in detail at a physical structure without having to travel to it. Matterport’s service could also be handy after a theft or natural disaster to help determine what was lost and file a more accurate (and more likely to be paid) claim.
Panasonic Business Solutions
I’m dropping Panasonic Business Solutions in here because it is a relatively small part of a much bigger company and is often forgotten. It builds and sells hardened products, projectors, digital signage and video surveillance equipment. Its industry coverage is pretty impressive and the company’s reliability is generally unequaled. The company has been amazingly passionate about everything it does. I run into its products and representatives at NASCAR events, fast food store openings and military deployments. That variety represents an impressive scale for such a small unit. What brought this company to mind was its unique hardened 5” tablet/phone (Android or Windows based) that would likely survive events that you wouldn’t and that now has its own comic book.
Wrapping Up: Small Companies Filling Business Needs
As we approach the end of summer, it is good to know that small companies are filling unique gaps for business that the bigger players can’t or won’t fill. Check them out: You’ll likely be surprised at what a smaller company can do. These firms take names and kick butt in a variety of arenas.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+