With great interest I tracked the recent announcement that Cisco was “back” in the small business space. I reached out to Cisco for more details and had an interview with Marc Monday, Global Head of Small Business, at Cisco. Monday is a long-time acquaintance of SMB Nation with his Microsoft and Concur/SAP stints.
First let’s rewind a bit to track Cisco’s small business history working with the SMB Nation community and how that’ll provide you the context needed to assess Cisco’s current small business fitness. First
– Cisco made a splash at the infamous SMB Nation Fall Conference 2008 with its push of the D-Link “Linksys” small business solutions (primary hubs, routers, switches, WiFi devices). Then Cisco worked closely with SMB Nation with the UC-3xx telephony solutions including a focus group in the 2010-time frame at a Spring conference. But like the ebb and flows of the tide twice a day, Cisco silently retreated.
Fast forward the movie and Cisco is back in small business. Monday shared insights and visibility into this plan that was announced at the recent Cisco partner conference.
Cisco’s leading with “doubling down” on small business messaging. Also – the orchestration required for the program’s simultaneous rollout to ten countries is impressive. Creating such a unified global experience on Day One is exceedingly difficult.
The three legs of the small business stool are:
- Frictionless, easy customer experience (Marketing Strategy, New Virtual Demand Center, Route to Market and Sales Coverage)
- Cisco Designed for Business portfolio (Connect, Compute, Collaborate)
- Increased Investment in Partner Programs. This is where it gets real for the SMB Nation community. More below.
Cisco Small Business Partner Investment Round
There are four components to evaluate with Cisco’s new small business religion. Again – the comprehensiveness of this small business rollout isn’t lost on me (I fancy myself a long-time Cisco observer/analyst).
- Perform Plus. A new globally consistent performance incentive that rewards partners on the overall product and software growth plus the bonuses for strategic growth.
- Streamlined Deal Registration. Provides automated approvals and discounts on deals under $50K, so partners can close deals faster. Note to SMB Nation – this is clearly where we’ll play to the third standard deviation (99.7%) of the time.
- CMSP Express. A redesigned Cloud and Managed Service Program to address the needs of Managed Services Provider (MSPs) selling into small business.
- X-Sell. A small business sell community through co-investment with its partners. Cisco-led training and joint selling to scale the tremendous opportunity.
I recently observed a tagline on Facebook from an Alaska woman friend who advises one to stay skeptical in life. While I’m much more blue ocean than that on any given day, I can say that her sage advice actually makes sense for a couple reason. I always watch closely when any large company tries to speak small business. And over the past 15+ years I’ve seen Cisco make two distinct runs at the small business market and then strategically change direction. The good news here is that Monday is committed to the lessons learned in the past to drive success in this new attempt. Think of it this way: New small business push from Cisco in the new decade. I’ll keep an eye on ‘em for ya!