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Meet Cisco’s Mr. SMB

Canadian-born Rick Moran is trying to mesh company products with channel and customer needs

Honolulu , Hawaii — Small business shops to buy. That is just one of the little nuggets of information Rick Moran has learned in his new role as the new vice-president of SMB marketing for Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO).

The Brantford , Ont.-born Moran, who used to baby-sit hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, was previously the vice-president of unified communications marketing. Admittedly, he says he is trying to learn as much as possible about the buying behaviors of small and medium businesses since his previous role was in the enterprise.

Speaking here at the vendor’s Partner Summit, CEO John Chambers said Cisco is becoming a consumer company, similar to Apple. Two of its major acquisitions over the past few years, Linksys and Scientific Atlanta, have been on the consumer and SMB side.

“I am Mr. SMB at Cisco,” Moran said.

He says to be more successful in SMB Cisco has to change, and think of small business as a microcosm of a big business. The SMB market Moran will be taking care is companies of 250 employees and under. The sub-100 seat company market is an US$11 billion opportunity, while the 250 person company and under market is a US$26 billion opportunity, Moran estimates.

He says Cisco knows how to market to companies of 100 employees or more, but has to learn how to effectively market to the 20 person company.

“You can’t act like an enterprise. They are not consumers and they do not buy on a whim,” Moran said.

The channel is Cisco’s only route to the SMB, and for them Moran said the message should be more about how collectively they can make more money faster.

“We’re finding that small businesses don’t buy unless they have to solve a problem or get compliant. They don’t buy technology for technology’s sake and you can’t push them to buy technology because it won’t work, and they’ll stop listening to you,” he said.

One of the things Cisco is doing to become more attractive to the SMB is to re-write the SMB portion of Cisco.com. Moran said that if an SMB customer had gone to Cisco.com before they’d have gotten lost.

“We now describe products with real words and we only show products that can tell a customer what they can do with it,” he said.

Cisco.com can also map a customer need to the partner locator. “The idea is when they’re looking they can get to the information quicker,” he said.

Moran added that in the next six months his team will be working to make Cisco.com’s SMB site more personal with a space called My Cisco. When My Cisco is launched customers’ actions on the Web site will be transferred to the partner, enabling the partner to deliver an SMB solution faster.

CDN‘s full Cisco Partner Summit 2008 coverage

April 9, 2008: Cisco adds data centre to VIP program
April 9, 2008: Blog Golden opportunity in the data centre
April 10, 2008: Cisco unveils Partner Exchange
April 10, 2008: Cisco to push WebEx to the channel
April 11, 2008: Meet Cisco’s Mr. SMB
April 11, 2008: The Canadian market according to Lloyd