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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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Cisco’s New SMB Business Portfolio – Essential Tools for Secure Productivity

A key trait of innovative small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) is agility– making decisions quickly, shifting direction with a customer, and swiftly working out the details with colleagues. But at the end of the day, what it all comes down to is having the right technology—to enable responsiveness, increase overall productivity, and keep SMBs competitive.

And that becomes especially important when you look at statistics around mobility. The mobile worker population is expected to reach 1.3 billion by 2015, and 71 percent of SMBs now functioning as work-from-anywhere businesses (according to IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011–2015 Forecast. At the same time, this move to mobile has refocused SMBs’ attention on security.

On-the-go SMB workforces need to be able to work and collaborate securely, whether onsite or mobile. And, since SMBs generally don’t have dedicated IT departments, they need technologies that are easy to use and manage, all while fitting within a tight budget. This kind of enablement is what allows small businesses to be agile.

In response to these challenges, Cisco has introduced a host of new small business technologies designed to support the requirements of nimble SMBs that are looking to get an edge. These offerings deliver new capabilities around security, collaboration, and mobility.

To learn more about our latest small business products, visit our website. And, watch for additional blogs in the coming days that will zero in on related topics to provide more context around how you can help maximize productivity in a secure environment, however you define your workspace.

We’d also love to hear from you about your SMB challenges. What are you hoping to tackle this year from an IT perspective?

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Tired of dealing with unplanned IT network problems?

Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right network technical support plan that can save you time, money and customers.

As a business owner, your top priorities are to grow  your business, increase your employees’ efficiency, and serve your customers better. On top of that, small and medium-sized businesses like yours are looking to leverage a sophisticated IT network without dedicated or limited IT staff to support these goals. If this sounds like your business, you understand how increasingly reliant your company has become on your network.

As you realize the impact your network has on your success, you may also recognize the need to maintain the health of your network so that it’s always on and available for employees to connect, collaborate, and communicate with colleagues and customers alike. Network downtime can cost your business plenty in decreased productivity, tarnished reputation, and lost revenue. According to Infonetics Research, unplanned network downtime costs companies an average of 3.6% of their revenue every year. And this doesn’t even include potential damage to your reputation. In addition, dealing with unplanned IT network problems can also be very demanding on your IT staff, and time consuming.

There is a solution: If you want to reduce business-halting network downtime and stop reactively responding to IT network problems, consider purchasing a technical support plan or services from your solution provider, which can help you save time and money. A support plan gives you access to expert technical support engineers who can quickly resolve network issues, minimizing the time your network is down. Faster problem resolution and a more stable network also means your employees can stay productive. Finally, services offered by your solution provider may include additional services such as ongoing remote monitoring for proactive network management, helping to anticipate issues before they affect your business.

So before you make your decision regarding the plan that’s right for you, consider these factors when deciding which support plan best meets your needs.

  • Technical support.  For companies looking to support new technologies while saving time and money on ongoing maintenance, a technical support plan may be the solution. These plans often provide such features as phone and online support, software updates, and hardware replacement if needed, like the Cisco Small Business Support Service. Some technical support plans like Cisco SMARTnet also offer more direct, anytime (24×7) access to support engineers to quickly resolve any network issues that may occur. Talk to your Cisco partner who can help to evaluate your current and near-future needs and determine which option is best for you.
  • Proactive IT service. Like large businesses, many smaller companies rely  heavily on their network as a strategic advantage to serve customers, suppliers, and vendors around-the-clock—the network is their business. However, these companies often don’t have the in-house IT resources necessary to implement new technologies, let alone provide round-the-clock monitoring and rapid resolution should a problem arise. If this sounds familiar, your company would benefit from working with a managed service provider who offers more comprehensive services—one that provides real-time monitoring and alerting, troubleshooting, performance optimization, and routine maintenance.

Want to learn more about how a consulting firm benefited from Smart Services? Read this case study

Whether your company has 15 employees or 600, a support contract and your partner’s services can help ensure the reliability and security of your network so you can focus on your core business. To find a partner who can guide you, visit the Cisco partner locator

What features do you look for when evaluating support plans?

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How Technology is Transforming My Business

By Bayo Odutola, Managing Principal, OLLIP PC

Technology can transform small and medium-sized (SMB) organizations. For proof of this, look no further than my Ottawa-based boutique law firm OLLIP P.C.

With only a team of four lawyers and trademark agents, we protect the intellectual property (IP) assets of global enterprises, interacting with massive law offices along the way. To work with larger firms on global IP asset cases and compete with other larger outfits for clients, we were looking for a way to present OLLIP  to clients, peers and prospects in a way that didn’t scream ‘we’re a small business!’ And we found one aspect of this with technology.

We deployed a Cisco Unified Communications 540 System for Small Business as well as a variety of Cisco 7900 Series Unified IP Phones. We also take advantage of Cisco WebEx™ to conference with clients or partners around the world. Read More »

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Using Video to Grow Your Small Business – Melinda Emerson @SmallBizLady Shares Tips

Melinda Emerson, aka “SmallBizLady” is a veteran entrepreneur; small business expert and social media coach who specializes in helping small businesses thrive. Today hosted a WebEx offering tips for using video to help grow your business.

Watch her on-demand webinar on using video for your business.

Why should you use video?

Here are a few interesting stats about video Melinda shared with us:

  • Online video is expected to grow 55% this year and is the top format for content marketing.
  • Videos have a 41% higher click-through rate than plain text context.
  • 58% of consumers ages 18-34 who follow brands on social media would watch a video posted by that brand.
  • 57% of Smartphone users polled say they’ve streamed video on mobile.
  • Videos are integral to the success of any SEO strategy.
  • 90% of web traffic is predicted to be video by 2014.

With all that good news, there’s one important point Melinda makes about using video: don’t waste people’s time. To be effective, keep it short. 88% of people say they would watch a video that educated them for at least one minute.

Use video to create a deeper relationship with your customer.

Here are 12 ways you can use video to market your business (be sure to watch the on-demand presentation to learn more).

1. Blog content. 5. Video training. 9. Live video streaming.
2. Customer testimonials. 6. Interviews. 10. Webinars.
3. Product demos. 7. Commercials. 11. Viral video.
4. Email video. 8. Video news release (VNR). 12. Product reviews.

Melinda went on to explain how to create videos that are interesting to customers. Read More »

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