Small and medium business (SMB)* IT trends are consistent regardless of what you read or who you talk to. IT budgets are growing, security is top of mind, and the shift to cloud in full force. For Cisco, these trends couldn’t align better. We have the buyer interest^, product leadership, and a world-class partner ecosystem to respond to the needs of these customers.
And we are laser-focused on improving our traction in this market with a new small business-specific portfolio and a series of right-sized partner programs launched late last year.
In this blog, I will discuss the very exciting work we are doing to accelerate the SMB opportunity with our global Service Provider Partners, using a comprehensive new approach called High Velocity Managed Services. Simply put, High Velocity Managed Services does what it says: it accelerates the build-out and launch of managed services offerings targeting smaller customers, making it easy, scalable, and efficient to reach this segment.
Major Opportunity for SP Managed Services
When it comes to where and how to buy, there is no one size fits all in SMB. Sales cycles, typically one month, are much shorter than with enterprise customers (typically months or years for similar solutions) and SMBs want to purchase solutions on-demand and often, online.
However, when it comes to IT infrastructure services like network, security, and collaboration, new Cisco research suggests that many of the same companies are interested in using managed services if the provider can make it easy, affordable, and bundle it with other services – especially security (more on this later). And if the managed services provider can expand the bundle to deliver a complete IT package, including internet, the value proposition becomes extremely favourable.
Obviously, this means our global service provider ecosystem is in a great spot to better serve small business customers. They already market and deliver connectivity to SMBs and can use that scale to layer in new value-added services these buyers are looking for. No brainer, right?
Upping the Game with Managed Services
Yes, trends and business models suggest that service providers are poised to capture more managed services revenues. But this needs to be done with a few key tenets in mind:
- First and foremost, an acknowledgment that enterprises and SMB are very different. Sales and go-to-market processes need to be simplified to reach SMB buyers.
- For winning service providers, this comes with the recognition that SMBs can’t be served with enterprise offerings at a reduced price.
- Rather, solutions need to be tuned for this space by delivering the right set of features that solve the broadest set of customer pain points (with optional add-ons for vertical customers) messaged with a set of specific personas and business outcomes in mind, and set up for easy cross-sell.
Born in the cloud, Cisco Meraki delivers a simple value proposition for managed service providers – and is where the High Velocity journey starts. Providers can easily create a Meraki service template (i.e. offering) that suits a majority of customer needs, use platform APIs to connect to backend services, and then sell and provision with turnkey speed. This plug and play model can be used to deliver a secure WiFi offering all the way to a full managed network/LAN solution for rapid deployment and serviceability of desk phones across the WAN. All with a brandable end customer portal to provide important solution visibility that comes out of the box or customized through application development partners such as Encapto.
Security is King
71% of SMBs who are very interested in purchasing managed services from their service provider ranked security as the top value proposition of such a solution – higher than streamlined support and reporting tools.
With Meraki integrations with Cisco’s security products such as Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) and Umbrella, partners can lead with a value proposition centered on keeping out malware and ransomware that can cripple business productivity. Backed by the world’s most comprehensive threat intelligence research entity in Cisco Talos, providers can further showcase how well the solution covers the complex and evolving cyber threat landscape. For companies investing in collaboration, the Webex platform also delivers top-end security. Together, providers can market the complete suite of IT infrastructure services with security as the lead message.
More than Just a Product Pitch
As partners shift from niche managed services players to leading digital service providers, they need to adapt their own go-to-market programs and resources. It is not an overnight shift to start selling network security, SD-WAN, and complete IT infrastructure bundles. Nor is it sufficient to just start selling a managed service without thinking about the right product set, target segments, and packages as mentioned previously.
To help providers with the High Velocity Managed Services opportunity, we’ve built an arsenal of best-practice go-to-market resources to assist with sales and marketing enablement. We’ve developed these assets across the offers depicted above, and they can be used off the shelf or tailored to a provider’s specific campaign goals through a Cisco-led engagement.
With the High Velocity Managed Services approach, providers can go from selling SMB managed services as an afterthought to packaging them right into their lead offering. For example, providers like Shaw, BT Business, CenturyLink, and Post Luxembourg are leading with their managed services offerings and using compelling packaging, messaging, and digital journeys to drive results.
If you are a service provider looking to capture new SMB revenue, there’s never been a better time to get on board with our program. Ask your partner account manager for more information about High Velocity Managed Services for SMBs. Our global team can assist with funding opportunities, product and sales training resources, go-to-market best practices, and more to help you capture this opportunity!
Watch our recent Service Provider webinars about High Velocity offerings for security and collaboration: