BreakThrough Interview

Solves the Problems of “High Barrier,” “Complexity of Implementation/Operation,” and “Security Concerns” in the Implementation of IT in SMEsCisco Start


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Takehiko Mizutani appealing the features of Cisco Catalyst 2960L series that can be attached by magnet

  • Amid the rising tide of IT implementation, Cisco has announced good news for SMEs. It has released Cisco Start—a comprehensive solution that includes large enterprise- level network functions, teleworking on a cloud server, and Cisco’s famed switches in its lineup.

Cisco Systems, a pioneer in corporate networking systems, releases a large enterprise-level solution for SMEs with powerful and appealing functions combined with safety offered at low cost

The implementation of IT based on networking systems has steadily penetrated large companies driving their business growth. However, SMEs have not necessarily benefited much from this trend. The reasons for this include, firstly, the high cost, and the necessity of specialized and advanced knowledge to continue to build, operate, and manage the system after implementation, as well as doubts regarding whether it is really safe. System representatives must have felt troubled about these points.

But there is good news for these SMEs. Cisco Systems ("Cisco"), the renowned pioneer in corporate networking systems, made it easier for SMEs to implement outstanding networking functions and products that are commonly used at large companies through the launch of Cisco Start in September 2015. Cisco Start enables users without specialized knowledge to operate and manage it, while featuring solid security, and it is offered at a reasonable price.

What is so appealing about Cisco Start to SMEs?

Takehiko Mizutani, Manager of Architecture & Solutions of Cisco Japan’s Marketing Headquarters explains passionately that Cisco Start represents Cisco’s sincere wish to empower SMEs. Japanese SMEs have often faced issues such as personnel shortages, difficulty utilizing IT, and security concerns, but technologies of Cisco they have heard of seemed like a tall hurdle to clear even if they wanted to implement them. Mizutani explains, “Based on the mission to deliver the solid know-how, reliability, and experience that we have accumulated over many years to SME customers, we established the basic concept of Cisco Start comprised of Simple, Smart, and Secure, while keeping the same quality.”

In terms of the Cisco 841MJ series, which was one of its best-selling routers back in September 2015, Cisco made it possible for even non-professionals to easily carry out setup and operation by translating the setup screen language into Japanese. Later, in April 2016, it added Cisco WebEx, a cloud-based web conference system, in order to powerfully support SMEs in solving their priority issue of personnel shortages by realizing teleworking. Furthermore, in September 2016, it added Cisco Catalyst 2960L series, a switch of the famed Catalyst brand networking equipment. Through these initiatives, Cisco further enabled SMEs to build a full-fledged corporate networking system, supporting the group of functions of the essential internetwork operating system (IOS)—the standard software installed in almost all of Cisco’s current routers and switches—based on an accurate understanding of the needs of SMEs and backed by its 30 years of track record. Not only that, Cisco offers the 8-port series at the stunning low price starting from 40,000 yen (reference market price). It also offers the option of installing the 8-port model in a space with less than 30cm length, through attachment by magnet, helping customers to save space.

At the same time, it added Cisco Wireless Access Point, an entry-level model of wireless LAN switches designed especially for small-scale needs offered at an even more reasonable price.

Cisco Start is rapidly being implemented by SMEs, helping them expand their business opportunities

Here we will introduce one representative case of a Cisco Start user. Onaga Megane, an eyewear wholesaler located in Fukui city, Fukui Prefecture specializes in manufacturing eyewear made from 100% Japanese materials. Fukui Prefecture boasts the No. 1 shares in Japan of domestic eyeglass frame production, and the company focuses on using Japan-made materials for everything down to the smallest components. At the time of implementing Cisco Start, the company’s sales management network and equipment were getting old and the service period was nearing the end, and it also had security concerns. So Onaga Megane decided on implementing Cisco Start—through reference by a Cisco sales partner who had a close relationship with the company and had continued to support the company since the past—and made efforts to reform its sales management network. By doing so, the company strove to develop a sales management network capable of acquiring inventory information from across the country even more safely and in real-time, and now it is continuing to make earnest efforts to eliminate lost sales opportunities.

Onaga Megane aims to expand sales opportunities by implementing Cisco Start

Cisco hopes to actively support the implementation of IT and expansion of business opportunities for companies with less than 100 employees, and so far many SMEs have implemented Cisco Start. In reality, this success has largely been made possible thanks to the help of support partners, because SMEs are dispersed throughout Japan’s local regions. Mizutani explains, “We have over 1,700 partnering companies evenly spread across Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa. This gives our users a sense of relief and has been a large factor leading to implementation by customers.” It goes without saying that the implementation of Cisco Start is also contributing to the regional revitalization of Japan.

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