As the global community navigates a catastrophic health crisis, business ecosystems are banding together to provide guidance and assistance.

In addition to committing $225 million to support the global and local response to the pandemic, Cisco has taken a number of steps to help the small business community. The company has provided a variety of resources, tips, and classes for working from home. It is offering free licenses of Cisco Webex and Cisco Security solutions. And it has expanded its portfolio of small business technologies that are designed to be simple and secure.

Partners help with reopening strategies

Working togetherEven more important is the legion of partners working alongside Cisco to help small businesses during unprecedented changes. Cisco partners are on the front lines of business offering local presence and support. Many partners are working day and night to ensure small businesses survive and thrive amidst the chaos.

ZAG Technical Services, a managed services provider with three offices in California and one in Idaho, initially helped its clients transition to remote work and is now assisting them with reopening strategies. ZAG has also created a pro bono program to support nonprofit, education, and healthcare organizations during the crisis.

“The needs have been fairly universal,” says Greg Gatzke, founder of ZAG Technical Services. “With more people working from home, companies need connectivity, collaboration, security, and access to key applications.”

Your Technology Support, another longtime Cisco partner, has found creative ways to mitigate the financial strain many small businesses are experiencing.

“Instead of big projects, we’re focusing on tweaks and efficiency improvements that help our clients save money,” says Adrian Turri, technical lead for Your Technology Support. “We’ve adjusted our services and costs, worked with Cisco Capital to secure some incredible financing, and we’re even paying the interest in some cases. Whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Protecting users and data beyond the firewall

Multilayered security is another critical requirement for small businesses adapting to a new normal. With more spokes connecting to each business hub, a secure connection that is supplemented by endpoint protection and identity and privacy management can make the difference between survival and obsolescence.

“Small businesses are aware of the risks, but they’re not always aware of their vulnerabilities,” says Vince Zappula, chief revenue officer of DataEndure, a Cisco partner focused on digital resiliency. “And many don’t have the resources to fully protect themselves. It requires 24×7 monitoring and the ability to thoroughly investigate and quickly respond if something happens.”

The power of the portfolio

What may sound like enterprise-scale capabilities that can only be attained with enterprise-scale budgets are more affordable and accessible than ever before.

“The power of the suite is Cisco’s secret sauce. The products are better together than they are alone,” Gatzke says. “Meraki firewall, Cisco SD-WAN, Cisco VPN, Cisco Umbrella, Cisco AMP. These are big enterprise technologies that have been brought to the small business market. They’re easy to use and they’re inexpensive, with payback in months, not years.”

Success through adaptation

Despite the uncertainty that has been borne from the pandemic, Cisco and its partners see distinct light at the end of the tunnel for small businesses.

“This is the ultimate pressure test,” says Turri. “We have the opportunity to reevaluate everything and determine what’s really important and what’s unnecessary. As a result, businesses will become faster and more efficient.”

“Companies will also be more adaptable,” Gatzke adds. “They will be more comfortable with change, and they’ll have the mindset to make big changes quickly.”

Although many things may change when we reach the other side of the pandemic, Cisco will still be here with our partners to help small businesses adapt and succeed.

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Taru Khurana

Marketing Manager, Product/Systems