Cisco increases its SMB portfolio by 100 products

Published: June 5th, 2009

BOSTON – If there is one area that Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) needs to drastically improve, it’s in the small and medium business sector.

At it’s annual partner summit, the networking vendor announced 100 purpose-built products that will expand its Cisco Small Business (formerly Linksys) and Cisco Small Business Pro division.

Canadian channel chief Donna Wittmann also said she’s working on developing a Value Incentive Program (VIP) type of channel rewards program for the SMB partner base.

Andrew Sage, vice-president of small and medium business sales at Cisco, said that partner development funds or rebates will be offered to the SMB channel. The rebate program will be for Select registered partners that work with Cisco in the marketplace. Those partners may get up to $15,000 in partner development funds until July 25, 2009.Wittmann told CDN to expect this new incentive SMB channel program sometime between the end of the year and the beginning of 2010.

“Cash flow is king in the channel right now and our growth is in the future,” Sage said.

Cisco is also offering extended financing through Cisco Capital an additional 30 days from 60 to 90. “We’re partnering with distributors on this to improve partner cash-flow. The plan or model is to sell it, acquire it, install it, bill for it, get the customer to pay for it, and then pay for it,” Sage said.

Greg Myers, vice-president of marketing for Tech Data Canada, believes this extended financing option will help drive its distributor financing arm.

“This takes the pressure off the distributors. We can get the transaction and get paid in short order and it allows the reseller to use Tech Data’s own financing arm for other things,” Myers said.

The new products include the ESW 500 Series switches that starts at $659, the SPA8800 IP Telephone Gateway, at $600, will enable small business to connect a Open Source-based IP PBX to existing analog phones and faxes. The PVC300 IP Camera listed for $794 is for video surveillance and Release 1.5 of Cisco’s Smart Business Communications System for collaboration.

Sage said the go to market strategy through the channel is as important as the new SMB products.

“We have a profit proposition for those that serve the SMB. We want it to be profitable for the local reseller and we want the same thing for the distributor, the service provider who drives managed services and the online reseller for transactional selling,” Sage said.

One area Cisco is trying to bridge the gap between SMB customers and partners is with its Web site. Cisco helps partners find new customers in the SMB through call centre chats that are live and passed on to the partner when the customer is either ready to buy or needs some help.

Customer leasing and financing also has be included to the SMB channel and end users with zero-per cent financing, Sage said.

Cisco also announced that small business centric equipment such as the UC 500 Series has been reduced in price by 25 per cent.

Myers said that Cisco remains an enterprise company, and it’s still early for networking giant in the SMB space. The introduction of new products, platforms and applying more resources to the SMB is a significant step.

Cisco also unveiled a Small Business Pro Service that will give small business customers three years of technical support and coverage.