MicroStrategy has announced new information dashboards for business users, MicroStrategy Dynamic Enterprise Dashboards.

Look at convergence, he says: it has long been the driver for big business communication.  

"We've been hearing about VOIP for years and it's a reality for a growing number of corporates. However, although many vendors have started introducing VOIP solutions for SMEs, the uptake has been relatively slow because, frankly, costs are still generally prohibitive.

"Then there's wireless. Wireless networks offer enormous productivity benefits and now that security – and bandwidth – issues are being resolved, the benefits of WLAN are being more and more widely enjoyed.  Again, however, it's confined largely to the corporate arena," he says.

This is changing and Furlong is confident that 2007 will see growing numbers of smaller businesses enjoying all the benefits of wireless convergence – just like their corporate big brothers.  

So what is the reason, Furlong asks?

On the one hand, the technology has matured and vendors are developing products designed specifically for the SME market.  An example is the recently released Samsung OfficeServ SOHO. This is an all-in-one wireless solution that takes care of a small business's voice and data communications.  It's a switchboard and a WLAN hub that effectively delivers wireless VOIP comms to up to eight users.

And on the other, there is growing recognition by all players involved in the technology supply chain that a small business is not just an undersized corporate that simply requires scaled down versions of large solutions.  Its needs – not only from a technological but also from a financial and support perspective – are very different from that of its corporate big brother.

Indeed, Furlong believes that the real challenge in the SME market will be to get these fantastic new SME products into the hands of small business owners.  And that, he maintains, will require innovative thinking on the part of dealers, resellers and retailers.

"For example, why not bundle essential office equipment – switchboard, PCs, network, photocopier, scanner, fax and so on – into innovatively priced packages?  

"And affordable rental solutions – coupled with on-site support services – will bring these products and bundles within reach of budget-strapped and technologically-deprived small enterprises.

"Motion – which has revolutionised the office automation industry with its innovations that range from no-service, no-pay service level agreements and money-back guarantees on unsatisfactory service and equipment performance – is developing a range of SME technology bundles aimed at putting the very latest technology within reach of SME," Furlong adds.