Networking India through SMBs

Pramodh Menon, Senior Vice President, Commercial, Cisco India and SAARC

India has become a key player in the modern global economy, serving as a significant global hub for knowledge based economic activities, both as an "offshoring" destination as well as through the growth of indigenous firms. This explosive growth is being driven in a large way by the burgeoning small and medium business (SMB) sector, which is experiencing double digit growth. According to an AMI Partners report, there are more than 7.6 million SMBs in India and they are taking the country's economic prowess to new highs. SMBs are set to increase their IT spends by 24 percent in 2007 to a whopping US$8 billion to increase their servers and networking technology.

Given such dynamic conditions, Cisco India sees great growth potential for the SMB market (defined as 100-249 employees) as well as the Small Business (5-99 employees) and Mid Market (more than 250 employees). Traditionally, Cisco has focused on the large enterprise segment and while we continue to advance this endeavour with our collaborative tools, we have also turned our focus to the growing SMB and Mid Market segments with their unique needs.

Networking Needs
Indian SMBs today are looking to increase their operational efficiency, employee productivity, customer responsiveness, cost containment, and network security as well as increase their agility to react to competitive pressures and high speed business changes. Working closely with our channel partners we offer holistic, integrated, simple solutions/products (rather than ad hoc point products) that enable SMBs plan their long-term technology strategy and create real business value. Cisco India's strategy to reach and grow the SMB market includes:

Continued Channel Investment
Partner enablement and readiness is always high on our list of priorities to ensure profitable growth opportunities for our partners and us. Building a channel capacity, so that we can have a depth and breadth of channel partners reaching not only the metros but also the Tier II and III towns is important. In addition, partner certification programs such as SMB Select, helping partners in closing deals, training programs etc are being pursued.

New Customised Products / Solutions
Cisco India offers SMBs products and solutions that have been designed ground-up to suit their unique needs. An example is the Unified Communications 500 series for small businesses. It is a new platform offering Cisco's Unity Express for voice mail, conferencing, and auto attendant features, and the full portfolio of Cisco's Unified IP Phones all packed into one box and is Plug and Play.

Financing Schemes
Smart financing schemes such as the EasyLease program has been launched to help SMBs progress by financing their technology adoption. Offered at below market rates and easy schemes, SMBs today have the opportunity to embrace technology to make it a business differentiator.

The Network on Wheels (NOW) Van is a mobile showcase of Cisco's products and solutions to help SMBs benefit by actually seeing and understanding the benefits of networking technology. The NOW Van tours all over India including Tier II and III towns.

New Sales Tools and Resources
Many innovative tools have been introduced to help partners reach their SMB customers. Partners can create microsites that will be hosted by Cisco, make use of the Sales Accelerator, Mobility Business Advisor, IPC ROI Calculator, Quote Builder and more to enhance their selling strategies.

Technology will certainly provide a competitive edge to SMBs in today's marketplace and SMB-specific products and solutions will greatly enhance their capabilities. While computing products will still account for the bulk of IT investments, Internet spending is fast increasing as these enterprises embrace IP-enabled business process services. As business enablers, Cisco and its partners aim to play the role of trusted advisors to help Indian SMBs become global players.


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