Beyond Smartphones, Sprint Biz 360 Solutions Help Small Business Owners Be Efficient, Productive Chuong Nguyen08/22/2011 When businesses think of wireless companies, they think about smartphone, voice minutes, and data plans, but Sprint is going beyond that in reaching and meeting the needs of small businesses to be productive, efficient, and better manage their resources and assets. A portfolio of solutions could be found at Sprint.com/Biz360, and Sprint gave small businesses a preview of some of their offerings at an open house at the carrier’s Executive Briefing Center in San Mateo, California, a state of the art facility where customers can test the latest next-generation devices on the Now Network today. While smart devices (phones, tablets) are still an important component of the Sprint Biz 360 portfolio, the carrier emphasizes that when working with small businesses, it’s not about selling just a device in an experience that users would find if they walked into a retail store, but it’s about delivering a cost-effective solution. With hardware partners and new solutions coming out of the carrier’s labs with partners and developers at the Machine to Machine (M2M) Collaboration Center in Burlingame, California just outside of San Francisco, businesses can choose from customizable off-the-rack solution that’s tailored to fit their needs, or work with the carrier to create their own solutions from the hardware to the software.Advertisement For the smallest of businesses, Sprint demonstrated a cost-effective phone communications solution that’s designed to essentially replace an expensive landline, and comes with unlimited long-distance and local calls inclusive for just $20 a month. Called the Sprint Phone Connect, a box about the size of a home DSL or cable modem router will allow owners to plug in their existing landline phones. Instead of routing calls over an AT&T or Verizon line, Sprint will route calls over its 2G/3G network, similar to a wireless call. And if you move offices, no more jacks to install or calls to migrate your number–just move the Sprint Phone Connect box and you’re set, complete with voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, and multi-party calling. For Internet connectivity, Sprint is working with Cradlepoint in helping business users go completely wireless or have a backup network solution in the event that their wired Internet solution goes down. All users would need to do would be to plug in a 3G/4G USB modem into the Cradlepoint MBR95 router, which will serve as a router, similar to a home router, and will offer more connections than a mobile hotspot unit (currently limited to 5 devices via a mobile hotspot) and will allow users to connect to the router via a wired Ethernet cable as well for increased reliability. Advertisement And to leverage its wireless portfolio, the company’s leveraging its new Motorola XPRT and Photon 4G phones with enterprise-class security, contract-free wireless calling plans with pooled minutes, and advanced support.Advertisement Additionally, for workers who are out in the field, Sprint also offers a Workforce Locator to help employers track assets, employees, and help to maximize productivity and minimize expenses, like gasoline and mileage if you’re operating a vehicle fleet. Additionally, Sprint has partnered with Actsoft to bring wireless forms to devices as well, and will allow users to collect data in the field efficiently. For mobile points of sale, Sprint offers the AirBlue Mini, which is a compact credit card swiper that connects to your phone via Bluetooth and can print out receipts immediately. Given that many individuals are working remotely, these Sprint solutions will help people cut the cord in a manner that will help boost workforce productivity with simple, cost-effectively priced solutions. The best part is given that wireless networks are often times more reliable than home DSL or cable service, businesses will have more up-time and less down time, and the ease of configuration of these devices means that when a business grows or moves, there won’t be costly set-up or installation fees. It’s really interesting to see how much more reliable wireless has become, when compared to wired DSL and cable services. When speaking to some healthcare partners at Sprint’s recent healthcare summit, I found out that some of those partners had opted to use Sprint’s 3G/4G connectivity over a WiFi or wired network because wireless is often times more reliable and it’s easier to configure. The same logic can be applied to small business offices, home offices, and mobile offices as well.