RealTime IT News

Cisco and Yahoo! Tap into SMB Market

Cisco Systems teamed with Yahoo! this week to launch a service for small and medium businesses (SMBs) that supports the integration of networking technologies to sharpen the competitive edge for Web-based and brick-and-mortar businesses.

The Cisco Solutions Center is based on the Yahoo! Small Business network and is designed to provide SMBs with industry-specific technology and security solutions from Cisco and its partners IBM and Expanet, a maker of network security products.

The Solutions Center caters to a wide variety of business sectors, including financial services, healthcare, professional services, education, hospitality, retail, and manufacturing, and is listed under Yahoo! Small Business 'Resources.'

Cisco's solutions center is intended to complement Yahoo!'s own SMB offerings, which include Web hosting, email marketing, franchise search information, business plan development, news articles, and a postal center.

"The irony is that while nearly 75 percent of them [small and medium businesses] have Internet access, few are using online resources to get the help they need when they need it," said Raymond Boggs of IDC.

Boggs added that many SMBs have a desperate need for information and resources, but resources are in limited supply and they don't know where to start.

Cisco's Solutions Center also features the 'Cisco Internet Business Roadmap,' which provides an individualized roadmap of e-business technology solutions for SMBs.

According to Cisco, users complete a brief online business and technology assessment and Cisco can generate a customized Internet solutions adoption and suggested rollout plan based on the needs of the company.

Cisco joins ranks as an SMB solutions provider with Microsoft's bCentral, a business resource center that launched in 1999. Microsoft's bCentral offers Web and email hosting services, an advice and legal center, email marketing, a commerce manager, financial, human resources, and accounting solutions, and a travel center for corporate events that links to Expedia.com.

Other online SMB resources range from Salesforce.com's integrated suite of small business tools; NetLedger's business suite from Oracle; Dun & Bradstreet's solutions for managing business finances and credit; Inc.com's resources for starting and growing a small business, and Business.com's B-sources, a solutions site for small business and professional services.