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Why Engage Expert IT Services for Mobility and BYOD?

March 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm PST

BYOD blogThree Reasons: More Productivity, Revenues, and Savings

How can you control the connections and user experiences—and security—of BYOD and other mobile devices that access your business network?  Maybe you or your IT staff have the expertise and time to do-it-yourself (DIY). Or, maybe not.

In my last blog,I outlined the benefits of mobility technologies and the hot bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend that is shaping the future of how business is done. When you consider the amazing things that happen when we connect people, process, data, and things, it’s no surprise to see the demand accelerating from employees, business leaders, and customers for mobile device connectivity.

So, how do you take care of it all—including security? Is DIY really the answer? The devil is in the details.

In this blog, I’ll give you two real-life examples of an alternative to DIY that has a high value proposition: engaging expert IT services for planning, building, and managing mobility—and quickly getting full ROI. 

Example #1: Higher productivity, lower OpEx: A small business wanted to trim the large operating expense (OpEx) for its office space in the city by getting employees to work remotely. But the business also wanted to preserve its data security and employees’ feeling of working collaboratively. It decided to engage TekScape, a Cisco Premier Certified Partner, to come up with a solution.

TekScape specializes in “landscape technology”, its term for technology that facilitates more mobile and productive working environments. TekScape delivers and manages advanced IT solutions to help businesses increase employee productivity and reduce operating expenses. Its services include tailored design, implementation, and support of network integration, data center, unified collaboration, and mobility.

TekScape provided the 30-employee business with design and implementation services, as well as an ongoing managed service. The technology solution included Cisco collaboration and security products, and hosted communications services for mobile device apps and Cisco SMARTnet technical support service. To enhance the support, Cisco SMARTnet gives customers direct access to Cisco experts and online resources that can quickly resolve problems, lessen risk by detecting security issues, and keep customers’ IT staff up to date on technology advances and security threats. Solutions like this one position small businesses competitively for current and future mobility opportunities.

Following are the quantitative results:

  • Over 75 percent of the employees moved out of the office and now work from home or the site of their choice, using BYOD.
  • Their productivity immediately increased by 10 to 15 percent, due to less commuting, more flexible work hours, and the greater efficiency of participating in meetings in a videoconference format
  • The annual OpEx for office space shrank by more than $125,000
  • The business realized full ROI from its mobility products and services in less than a year

Example #2: Revenue and business continuity: A 200-employee business that provides medical records services had an ongoing contract with TekScape to monitor the performance of its network. The network equipment included a Cisco Unified Communications Manager platform and IP phones, and Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX)for client devices.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the business’s building on a Monday, 30 feet of water flooded two floors beneath the business. All power, Internet, and phone services for the building were knocked out.

Early the next morning,TekScape engineers wearing water boots showed up at the customer’s business, ready to help it resume operations. They quickly assessed that the utilities’ restoration of power and communications services to the building would take days (if not weeks), a delay the business could not endure due to client contracts and compliance requirements.

So TekScape devised an interim BYOD communications network solution, using the customers’ existing network equipment. TekScape engineers carried the communications platform to a co-location center, where they configured it for remote contact center agents, softphones, point-to-point video, and Cisco Jabber. The 200 employees quickly resumed work from locations all over the city, using their tablets, laptops, PCs, and smartphones to connect securely via VPNs.

It turned out that full restoration of operations at the site of the business’s building took two months, a delay that would have cost the customer $5 million in lost revenues. 

The quantitative results: In less than a day, the customer realized full ROI from TekScape’s mobility services. And without them, the customer said, it would have gone out of business.      

How could your business use expert mobility services to increase its productivity, revenues, or savings on operating expenses? The ROI from engaging expert IT services for planning, building, and managing mobility can be big and fast.

So if you are thinking of an alternative to DIY, consider working with a Cisco Partner.  Find a partner today.

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Cisco’s New Small Business Portfolio—Fortifying the Future

The number of mobile-connected devices has broken the 1 billion mark. That’s not too surprising, given that as we grow more reliant on our devices and mobility, we also become more reliant on the Internet to get things done, take care of customers, and expand our businesses. In fact, we see a future that is defined by what we call the Internet of Everything (IoE), bringing together people, processes, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before. Yet Cisco estimates that about 99.4 percent of what could be connected by the Internet is currently unconnected. That’s pretty staggering. Imagine how even a fraction of that could affect your business—by connecting employees when they’re mobile and connecting customers and partners to keep business processes and sales in progress.

Cisco’s latest offerings are designed to capitalize on connectivity, helping to fuel small business success and pave the way for future growth.

Lief Keopsel recently discussed how the growing mobile population calls for a new approach. Cisco’s expanding small business portfolio helps customers find the right technology to meet their evolving needs—such as increasing overall productivity, bolstering responsiveness, and beating the competition. But we haven’t stopped there. We’ve recently added additional routers and wireless access points.

Ultimately, we’re developing a portfolio that helps small businesses perform to their maximum potential through offerings that span security, connectivity, and collaboration.

Security Is a Competitive Advantage
Through all this, whether you’re increasing productivity or enabling collaboration, you really have to keep security at the forefront. It’s what gives you the edge. If you missed the recent blog post featuring David Lawrence from Smart Technology Enablers talking about the Cisco ISA500 Series, please listen in. David describes how the Cisco ISA500 Series helps customers safeguard against outside threats while allowing employees to securely access information remotely.

Connectivity Is Key to Productivity
Check out how our newly launched products deliver greater capabilities with built-in intelligence to provide more options for getting things done and creating a more customer-centric business model, regardless of location.

Collaboration Improves Business Effectiveness
Bringing together people is a key part of our value proposition. We’re helping small businesses respond to customers more quickly and cultivate stronger customer engagement and loyalty. All while lowering the cost of doing business.

We understand that making the right technology decision is critical. And to that point, we’re proud of the recognition we’ve received from Miercom. Linda Beaton’s post on February 8 highlights  a recent study by Miercom. This report favorably compared the Cisco SF500, SG500, and SG500X switches with similar products offered by HP, D-Link, and Netgear.

To learn more about the Cisco Small Business products referenced here, please visit our website. Or to learn more about our Cisco Services, click here. If you’re a Cisco partner, check out our Partner Launch page to help seize new market opportunities and add value to your customers.

How are these changes affecting you? And, how can we help to strengthen our partnership?

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Less Is More: Flexible, Secure Collaboration in a Five-Inch Box

There’s a great sketch that Louis CK does about our impatience with technology and how much we’ve come to take it for granted. Our ability to connect from anywhere has raised our expectations for being able to instantly get or do what we want. And, when it comes to small businesses, that expectation turns to urgency for keeping productivity levels high. It’s this kind of thinking that framed the development of the new Cisco Small Business RV215W router.

The idea was to create a router that was versatile, but could also pack all your essential networking needs in a single device. The output: an all-in-one router that combines wireless-n, a secure firewall, a four-port switch, and a USB port for broadband connectivity. For customers, that translates to a simplified way to ensure that whatever business is at hand can be done securely and without interruption.

Check out this quick video featuring one of our product managers, to hear his personal take on why he’s excited about this new offering.

To learn more about the Cisco Small Business RV-Series Routers, click here.

All That and More

Wow. According to a recent Forbes article, there could be 9.5 billion people on the planet by the year 2075. Think how much energy will be generated by that kind of world population. This puts the emphasis on energy-efficient technologies in a whole new light. Technologies, like switches that reduce power consumption, can save businesses money. But so far, it’s not enough to outweigh the other critical factors small businesses seek: resiliency, easy configuration, and zero packet loss. That’s why the Cisco Small Business 500 Series switches are a home run.

A recent study by Miercom, a network consultancy, specializing in networking and communications-related product testing and analysis, favorably compared the Cisco SF500, SG500, and SG500X series of switches with similar products offered by HP, D-Link, and Netgear. The overall findings with regard to the Cisco 500 series switches:

  • Easiest to configure and implement; highest capacity and scalability of configuration parameters including VLANs, MACs, ACLs, and IP routes
  • Best resiliency when subjected to a DoS attack
  • More efficient in terms of overall energy consumption, and the energy saving capabilities, plus more economical when measured using normalized pricing based on price per gigabit and price per PoE watt
  • Forwarded line rate full mesh traffic at all frame sizes with zero packet loss
  • Most extensive support for IPv6 transitions

Nice to know that if you’re a small business looking to save money and power, you can have all that and more—without having to sacrifice other critical factors you need to keep your business running. You can read more about the results of the Miercom study here. Or, to learn more about how Cisco helps small businesses, visit www.cisco.com/go/smb.

So Many Smartphones and Tablets! It’s Time You Get On Board the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Train

February 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm PST

Here are tips to help you adopt and support mobility for your small and midsized business.BYOD blog image

Did you know, 42 percent of employees who own smartphones use them for work? In addition, 8 percent of Internet web based transactions and activities are conducted from a mobile device.

The new BYOD trend has changed both employee and customer expectations. The future is in your hands now! Are you reading this on your smartphone?

When you consider this new way we all live—the mobile world, as a small or medium sized business why would you want to ignore this BYOD trend? As Linda Beaton, marketing manager for Cisco points out in her recent blog, this BYOD trend encourages business growth and has security challenges. The upside is that companies that choose to embrace mobility reap a lot of benefits, including attracting more customers and serving them better. According to the Cisco ISBG Horizons Research, mobility improves employee productivity and ultimately can provide you with a competitive advantage.

In addition, when employees get to choose how, where, and with which tools they work, there is a 16 percent increase in job satisfaction. Cost savings are a benefit, too! Companies save approximately 15 percent when employees pay for all or part of their own devices and mobile data plans. And what company wouldn’t want to save money?You many ask: so how can I prepare my business for this new growing trend? It’s easy. By taking into account the following tips, you can get your business ready to adopt mobility and start reaping the benefits today.

Network infrastructure: According to the Cisco Connected World Technology Report, 40 percent surveyed expect to be able to access their company network from their personal mobile device. The inability to access the network impedes productivity—up to six hours per week. To support employees with mobile devices, you need a robust network, fast access and a lot of bandwidth, all wireless! You may also need to invest in network improvements to support advanced technologies to improve communication and collaboration among employees, partners and customers all seamlessly—and Cisco’s unified communications is the key.

Security: You may think that your anti-virus is the only protection you need. But guess what? In a recent Dark Reading article it points out, even when 40 antivirus products were tested with the most common viruses today they detected less than 5 percent of those threats. A breach in your company business data can result not only in financial loss, but also lost customer and business downtime. In fact, the new Cisco ISA500 is a comprehensive all-in one solution that performs like a router, firewall, and unified threat management device.

Protecting the privacy of your data from outside threats requires a three-pronged approach:

  • First, put infrastructure precautions in place to protect your network from malicious activity, such as: firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spam software, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS).
  • Second, you need a VPN to ensure secure access and transmission of your data from mobile employees.
  • Third, you need an acceptable use policy that includes guidelines for mobile device usage. The AUP should outline your expectations for these devices, such as who has rights to the data on them, users’ responsibilities, and security procedures.

Support: So, when employees use their mobile devices for work, how do you provide them with support? For example, if your employees use their smartphones or tablets for work and encounter a technical issue, who do they call? Time spent dealing with technical issues is time that your employees aren’t spending on company business.

To address this, consider purchasing a service contract. A service support plan gives you access to expert technical support engineers who can quickly resolve issues, keeping employees productive. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for small and medium-sized businesses is where to start when it comes to mobility and BYOD. A Cisco Partner can help plan, implement, and support a secure, scalable mobile experience for you and your employees. So what are you waiting for? Find a partner today!

This is a great topic, right? Want more? Check out these posts:

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