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Cisco ‘Cranks Up’ Small-Business Segment By Moving It Under Global Partner Organization

Small business, already a fast-growing multibillion-dollar business for Cisco, is getting even cozier with the company’s powerful partner engine for a ‘match made in heaven,’ the networking giant tells CRN.

Cisco Systems’ Global Partner Organization has assumed responsibility for the company’s small-business customer segment, the networking giant told CRN.

The reorganization combines the small-business customer responsibility with Cisco’s largest route to market, the Global Partner Organization, Andrew Sage, vice president of global distribution sales for San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco, told CRN. Sage was tasked with leading the restructure by Cisco Channel Chief Oliver Tuszik.

“It’s a really important move and a really smart idea,” Sage said. “I think it’s a match made in heaven, to be honest.”

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Cisco’s small-business customer segment is a 100 percent partner business, especially as these customers gravitate toward managed services and Everything as a Service, Sage said.

“Small businesses are stampeding toward these models because they are getting technology they couldn’t get before because it was too complicated. Now, they can fire up a SaaS application in 10 minutes and they need a platform to make that successful,” he said.

Small business is already a multibillion-dollar business for Cisco, he added. “We think that we can really crank it up by bringing it a little closer to the to the partner engine.”

Sage will be working alongside Luxy Thuraisingam, Cisco’s head of global partner marketing, to push more demand generation and marketing resources to partners targeting SMB sales. Cisco’s leadership believes that moving the small-business segment, which used to sit in the company’s Global Customer Organization, from a pure sales function into a channel sales function would be more effective since these customers are already coming to Cisco by way of their trusted advisers.

“I think there’s tremendous alignment there,” said Eric Bostick, CTO of NWN Carousel, a longtime Cisco Gold partner.

NWN Carousel, a solution provider giant that was formed when two Cisco Gold partners came together in a blockbuster deal in 2021, specializes in unified communications, networking and security. The company has both large enterprise and SMB customers. NWN Carousel this month introduced two consumption-based hybrid work kits for businesses, At-Home Essentials and Office Collaboration Room-as-a-Service, which will “play very nicely” in the SMB market, Bostick said.

NWN Carousel’s At-Home Essentials kit offers Cisco’s Meraki portfolio of cloud-managed solutions, which incidentally, will be the lead offer for small-business customers, Cisco’s Sage said. The Meraki portfolio offers easy-to-manage networking solutions that can be layered with security and collaboration services.

Cisco in 2019 unveiled Cisco Designed for Business, a portfolio for SMBs that includes products such as Meraki and Webex. Cisco Chair and CEO Chuck Robbins told CRN at the time that the company’s approach to the SMB market was different than its previous efforts because Cisco wouldn’t be retrofitting its existing offerings for SMBs.

“We used to joke that we had an enterprise ‘mini-me’ strategy. We would take enterprise products and paint them a different color,” Robbins told CRN in 2019. “We have a huge opportunity for share [in the SMB space] and we are going to need to drive our programs very effectively with our partners,” he said at the time.

Sage said the move will benefit the company’s partners.

“We think the move is going to be great for partners because we’re going to make sure we’re driving the right programs, the right enablement, the right incentives to make this business even more profitable than it already is,” Sage said.

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