Cisco and friends to help SMBs

Cisco Systems, AAPT, IBM and the Commonwealth Bank have collaborated on a new project designed to educate small-to-medium businesses on the benefits of adopting the internet.

Known as the Business E-fficiency Solutions program, the Cisco-led initiative will be kick-started by a nationwide roadshow in July where the companies and their partners will visit 16 cities and towns across the country to showcase their products and solutions.

According to executives from the headlining companies, the program is not designed to generate new customers for the organisation, but is an educational program to help more SMBs get online.

"We are not trying to beat people around the ears (about the internet) . . . we are trying to be a bit responsible and educate them. Whether they choose to adopt our solutions is up to them," Terry Walsh, managing director of Cisco Australia, said.

He said that 30 per cent of Cisco's total revenues in Australia are generated from the SMB sector.

Walsh said SMBs have a crucial role in the economic health of Australia, which will largely depend on the nation's success in the global internet economy. "It is imperative for Australia to accelerate the adoption of the internet economy," he said. "I do believe SMBs ignore the internet at their own peril."

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 60 per cent of Australian businesses are staffed with less than 100 employees. While 75 per cent of SMBs use the internet for displaying product information, less than 10 per cent offer e-commerce solutions such as sales and transactions, according to research group IDC.

As part of the ongoing program, SMBs will also have access to a "marketplace" website containing information on solutions and products and where to get them.

Additionally, more partners, including resellers, integrators and ISPs, will join the program and contribute to the roadshow, Walsh said.

"I can absolutely guarantee we will coming out with more partners," Walsh said, adding that there is also likely to be roles for SMB integrators and regional ISPs.

Partners expected to join the initiative include Supple Search and Keycorp.

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