Call it entrepreneurial agility or being nimble. From the 600 small businesses we questioned for the Global Workforce Survey, almost 85 percent of respondents reported plans to adopt a “Work from Anywhere” policy. Not only have small businesses embraced the new market for cloud services and solutions, they are also leveraging the opportunity of Hybrid Work to complete their digital transformation.

So, turn on the VPN, log in to your collaboration platform and make it secure. Unfortunately, simplifying the small business digitization conversation down to the technology only throws a veil over one of small businesses’ biggest challenges – budget availability. Not addressing it will put the whole digitization of small businesses at stake.

The budget challenge for small businesses

In Cisco’s recent study, “Small Business Digital Maturity Study”, small businesses rank lack of budget or lack of budget commitment among their top challenges in their digital transformation. Interestingly, the budget challenge is at a level as high as shortage of digital skills or cultural resistance to change (13% each). Even more interesting, small businesses consider budget a larger challenge than the lack of necessary technologies (11%). At the age of cloud services and self-service applications, does it come easier to benchmark and adopt technologies than finding the money?

The explanation of such a challenge can be found further in the study:  financial viability and predictability are in the top 5 priorities of medium and small businesses when thinking about digitization. At this stage, financial predictability scores almost the same as improving a new product or services (Respectively 14% and 13%). Ultimately, once small businesses managed to improve their operations and delivery, achieving growth and customer satisfaction, they put the focus on introducing new services/products while developing better financial viability.

And the pandemic is accelerating this trend. When asked about areas most impacted by COVID-19, small businesses place cash flow at a level equal to sales performance and even higher than customer engagement, production, or supply chain. Today, budget and flexible payment options have become critical for small businesses, not only for their finance staff, but also for the IT department or the lines of business they are working with daily.

Payment solutions as enablers of small business digitization

Simply put, cloud, as-as-service, managing software, services, and now Hybrid Work generated a shift towards pay as you grow, pay as you consume, or simple pay per month models. And when licensing becomes the new normal, small business look for the benefits that a multi-year engagement with their technology vendor can bring. Whether in terms of cost associated, dedicated support and services, or lifecycle/TCO.

The Global Payment Solutions portfolio meet all of these requirements. Our multi-year licensing is more cost-effective, allowing small business to pay overtime for a very small uplift. By spreading costs over time, small businesses can now anticipate their budget and acquire the latest technologies they need. There are also consumption models for businesses that want to keep the flexibility of paying as they use, or who want to make their software easier to consume in an effort to simplify their software expenses.

Besides technology, digitization also calls for services and support. And it matters as this is where your technology vendor turns into a trusted partner in your transition. Our new multi-year services program provides an attractive payment plan that drive services agreements for terms up to 60 months.

Finally, besides the pressure to deliver greater performance at lesser costs, small businesses also embark on the journey of reducing their carbon footprint. Remanufactured products save almost 85% on energy, 86% on water use, and 85% on materials over new. Our certified remanufactured equipment program is a valuable option for small businesses that are looking for a more flexible alternative that meets the needs of both current and legacy environments with a sustainable edge.

An impressive 93% of small businesses surveyed reported to have become more reliant on technology as a result of the pandemic. Our Global Payment Solutions are here to support them when taking the next step in their digital investment strategy.

Additional resources

Cisco Capital Small Business on Cisco.com

Cisco Small Business Digital Maturity Survey

Sustainable Certified Remanufactured solutions


Toby Roetto

Vice President, Global Sales

Cisco Capital