Cisco is merging its Linksys small business channel with its own reseller channel, to present a unified SMB partner program worldwide. Small and medium businesses present a big growth potential, Cisco notes. But as everyone notes, SMBs are difficult to reach and can be expensive to service. This is why resellers come in so handy.
Unfortunately, tech vendors that make most of their bucks from big businesses and organisations rarely find it easy to get into the mind-set of this sector: IBM and SAP are classic examples.
HP historically has been much better than most at reaching SMBs - it has the product range, marketing clout and reseller footprint to drum up the business. But in recent days, the company has taken the risky step in North America of putting all its SMB eggs in one reseller basket.
The vendor signed up CDW, America's biggest dealer to drum up SMB revenues, CRN US reports. HP is to co-pay for 110 CDW salespeople to sell only HP kit. The firestorm this has created could very well torch HP's relationships with just about every other SMB dealer in the US. After all, Dell is looking awfully keen these days...(update: here is CRN story on HP in damage limitation mode.)
Cisco is making all the right noises with its SMB channel initiative. A few weeks ago it set up a Small Business Council with the remit to "align the company’s small-business strategy and go-to-market across all functions". OK, so that's strategy boutique-speak, but the message is clear enough: Cisco wants Linksys resellers to sell more Cisco kit. And there are plenty of them - some 20,000 worldwide signed up to the Linksys Small-Business Channel Partner Program.
Cisco says the transition for Linksys business dealers is seamless, requiring a quick online registration. More details here.
One last thing, the Linksys brand and consumer channel remain as is, Cisco says. But you knew that already. ®