Feature Story

Small is BIG Business: Cisco launches into small business market

by Laurence Cruz

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The move is an effort to build a more inclusive future through tech that empowers people globally.

Sometimes small things and big things go together well. Leaves on a branch. Moons orbiting planets. And now small businesses and Cisco. That’s right—Cisco is launching into the small business market in a big way. The launch kicks off in the U.S. and Europe, rolling out globally over the next year. It includes a curated portfolio with a new brand name “Cisco Designed for Business,” dedicated sales coverage, and new programs to help partners share in the small business goodness. The move into the small business market is part of a larger company effort to build a more inclusive future through technologies that empower people around the world. These technologies will pave the way for brand new business models. They’ll solve problems no one has yet thought to address and create jobs and social mobility for people who never dreamed they could have them.

“Small business owners need time to focus on growing their business and not worrying about technology.  With our technologies and our strong partner community we can take a lot of this worry off their plates.”- Marc Monday, Cisco Global Head of Small Business

Cisco’s research shows small businesses are hungry for reliable, simple, secure, enterprise-class technology. They want tech that can grow with their businesses. We’re talking on-premises products like new Cisco wireless access points and mesh extenders, and cloud-based products like Meraki Go and Webex, including security products like Umbrella, Duo and more.

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“Small is strategic. Our path to growth requires recruiting and attracting new customers and growing with them as they grow. Most big companies started small.  Winning a small customer today requires simplifying some of our complexity, whilst also enabling growth through the power and the value of our platform,” says Marc Monday, Cisco’s global head of Small Business. “Small business owners need time to focus on growing their business and not worrying about technology.  With our technologies and our strong partner community we can take a lot of this worry off their plates.”

Opportunity and timing

Says Monday, “Small is an important strategy to capture new customers. By meeting customers where they are and growing with them, we have the ability to build a customer for life. This strategy also helps us capture market share and lead with value across our portfolios.” Small business is massive globally with over 1/2 of global GDP driven by small and employs 2/3 of the global workforce.

Like major enterprises, small businesses are having to grapple with the forces of business transformation, including growing competition and disruption. Some 44 percent of organizations say they expect their product, service or business model to change in the next three years according to the 2019 Harvey Nash KPMG CIO Survey.

44 percent of organizations say they expect their product, service or business model to change in the next three years. - 2019 Harvey Nash KPMG CIO Survey

“The pace of change and innovation out there is remarkable. Small businesses are being forced to adjust at an incredible pace. Just as we’ve helped our largest customers adapt and compete at every stage of their transformation journey, we can do the same for small businesses,” says Monday. “If you look at the way our products and portfolio have evolved, together with the way the market is evolving, it’s clear that the time to make this move is now.”

The partner factor

Cisco announced its push into the small business market at its annual Partner Summit in Las Vegas this week. The company has more than 60,000 global partners who collectively generate about 90 percent of its revenue. It’s relying on a combination of partners, distributors, resellers, e-commerce platforms and more to play an even more active role in the small business market.

To that end, Cisco has cranked up its investment in partner programs that support small business. These include a new crop of profitability programs geared toward helping resellers and managed service providers (MSPs) that are focused on small business customers. Digital will play a key role in these efforts, given that over 80 percent of small business customers use digital channels in weighing their vendor/technology options.

“Cisco partners are a competitive advantage for us,” states Monday. “Our partner community is the best in the world, and they are committed to, as Global Partner lead Oliver Tuszik says, ‘performing while we transform’. Studies show that between 60-80% of all small business technology selection happens BEFORE they ever talk to a partner or sales rep, so its critical that both Cisco and our partners have the right digital demand and listening systems to ensure we capture this important audience as they seek to put technology to work for their business.”

Cisco designed for business

Also announced at Partner Summit was the portfolio brand name “Cisco Designed for Business.” The portfolio covers a blend of products. On one hand, it includes products Cisco sells to large customers that are also well suited to small business—such as Cisco Webex and Meraki. On the other hand, it also includes products specifically designed and priced for small business customers. These include the likes of Meraki Go—Cisco’s simplified networking solution for small business—as well as a full stack networking portfolio from Cisco Business, including the new industry-leading access points, mesh extenders, and centralized network management.

Products in the new branded portfolio offer small businesses a simpler approach to business technology. They also offer business strength and security, innovative technology and expertise, plus benefits for the small businesses’ community and learning.

And Cisco is just getting started. By the end of the fiscal year, the company aims to have in place under the “Cisco Designed for Business” umbrella a revised and unified, world-class small business digital experience in all regions for customers interacting with Cisco and with our partners. The company also plans additional small business-dedicated products in the future.

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