Computer networking giant Cisco Systems announced it plans to invest $100 million on a global strategic initiative focused on small business networking and communications solutions for companies with fewer than 100 employees. The investment will focus on helping small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) gain greater agility and efficiency in working with customers via video and the Internet.
The newly created Cisco Small Business Technology Group (SBTG) is charged with developing technologies focused on six areas Cisco says SMBs consistently highlight as top priorities for enabling business growth: connectivity, security, remote access, productivity, customer interaction and customer support. The SBTG will focus solely on the small-business segment and is composed of sales, marketing, services and technology groups. Cisco Senior Vice President Ian Pennell will lead the group.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of today's economy and in today's environment," Pennell said in a prepared statement. "It's critical that small-business owners have a technology partner they trust to help them find and deploy the right solutions to grow their businesses."
All new small-business offerings will be named "Cisco Small Business" or "Cisco Small Business Pro," with "Pro" solutions designed for customers with more sophisticated technology needs. The first Cisco Small Business products are scheduled to be available in December and will be focused on video surveillance, data storage and wireless office communications.
The initiative highlights Cisco's commitment to serving the SMB space. The company says it values the total addressable market for small-business networking and communications products and services at $16 billion in 2009. The company says $10 billion of this value is derived from companies with fewer than 100 employees.
The company has also employed the new Cisco Small Business Council (CSBC) to oversee Cisco's small-business strategy. The Council is co-led by Sue Bostrom, chief marketing officer and executive vice president; Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of worldwide channels; and Pennell. Cisco VP Andrew Sage is charged with leading the global small-business sales unit dedicated to supporting Cisco partners that focus on small businesses.
On the community front, Cisco has introduced the Small Business Support Community, modeled on the Cisco Learning Network. The online community is designed to be a collaborative space where partners and SMB owners can share their knowledge and expertise on small-business networking and communications.
Rick Moran, Cisco's vice president of small business solutions marketing, said that for SMB owners, growing the business is a higher priority than becoming technology experts. "Small businesses learn about and implement technology in very different ways than do large enterprises," Moran said in a prepared statement. "In recognition, Cisco has transformed the way we communicate with small-business customers with a focus on business capabilities and benefits of complete solutions rather than on products and technologies."