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There is no doubt that small businesses (however you define small) have been hit the hardest during the global pandemic. In fact, many had to pivot quickly to survive or struggled to stay afloat and, sadly, had to close down operations. Understanding the impact that small businesses make on the economy, Cisco has doubled down on its commitment to help these businesses succeed.

The EDGE360 editorial team recently connected with Scott Parrillo, Business Development Manager for Cisco’s Distributed Organization, about how Cisco defines small businesses, the technologies that are supporting these businesses, and his advice for Cisco Partners selling to this market.

Parrillo explained that while the definition of a small business varies by which industry expert with whom you are speaking, he focuses more on what Cisco can offer a small organization regardless of its size. Cisco Designed Portfolio was created to offer small businesses the technologies they need to connect to the market, secure that connection, run and compute their application, and collaborate. According to Parrillo, “There is an unprecedented need for technology to help small businesses thrive.”

small businesses
Scott Parrillo, Business Development Manager for Cisco’s Distributed Organization

Technology that Any Small Business Can Access

Making technology accessible to everyone, regardless of size, is really the key to helping small businesses prosper. “Thanks to cloud technology, we’ve seen an unprecedented democratization of how companies leverage IT,” Parrillo explained. “Umbrella is one of our cloud security products that Fortune 100 companies use to protect their networks. Small businesses have access to the same products. While those same Fortune 100 companies have big IT staff and budgets, small businesses don’t. Yet, they don’t need it because of what cloud offers: Fast and simplified deployment and management.”

Simplification is key for small businesses. Meraki solutions are designed to simplify how businesses work. “The Meraki Dashboard is another great example. It offers unparalleled levels of visibility into networks through a single pane of glass,” Parrillo shared.

Scalability and flexibility are also valuable to small businesses looking to survive. Parrillo noted that Cisco cloud solutions offer the flexibility to scale up or down as an organization grows.

Investing in the Future of Work

As Cisco looks toward the future of work and how it is evolving, they are investing in creating technologies that enable collaboration from anywhere.

“One thing we’ve seen in the last year and a half is the acceleration of the future of work. And that future is about work styles and workflows and workplaces and all the things that small businesses need to communicate and collaborate,” he said.

To achieve this, Cisco has continued to show significant investment in its Webex platform. “We’ve added more than 1,000 new features into the platform in the last nine months. In fact, if you sold Cisco to businesses five years ago and you still sell it today, you’re offering a completely revamped, more holistic solution to your small business customers.”

The Webex Collaboration Suite allows businesses to reduce costs and reduce risks while accelerating time to value by simplifying operations. Parrillo explained that the suite of solutions offers calling, meeting, messaging, and audience engagement, along with specialized experiences from contact centers to vertical integrations for retail, healthcare, education, and more. Additionally, he explained that Cisco has invested in artificial intelligence capabilities in Webex to improve the experience. “This investment shows how the platform keeps evolving to meet the needs of today’s workforce and how it will continue to grow with the needs of our customers.”

Helping Small Businesses Secure Their Critical Assets

In addition to being hit the hardest from the pandemic, small businesses are also often facing numerous security risks and are targets for cyber attackers. “Cyber attackers do not care how big a company is,” Parrillo pointed out. Bad actors are looking for weak security practices and vulnerabilities to exploit. This leaves many small businesses open to ransomware attacks, phishing scams, social engineering, and other exploits on the network. Parrillo highlighted the Cisco Secure portfolio, which offers a set of technologies to strengthen the security posture for any business. “From unified visibility, automation, and stronger defenses, the built-in Cisco SecureX platform enables a secure network, users and endpoints, cloud edge, and applications.”

Making It Possible, Together

The effort to support small businesses can’t be done alone. It requires collaboration between Cisco experts, partners, and small businesses themselves. Parrillo encourages partners and customers to reach out. “We know we are not perfect, so we take the time to listen to our customers and partners in hopes of improving.” He encourages engagement in the Small Business Community, where users can ask questions, post feedback, or offer suggestions. Additionally, he highlighted two virtual events that partners can take advantage of, namely Webex One and Cisco Partner Summit.

“Lastly, it has not gone unnoticed by Cisco – from our senior leaders to our reps in the field – how hard our distributors and partners have been working to take care of customers during this unprecedented time. Cisco is only successful because of the value our partners bring to our customers.”

“Let’s get better together,” Parrillo concluded.