he world has changed dramatically over the last few months, with small businesses bearing the brunt of the impact. As the Canadian economy begins to reopen, small businesses are now facing new challenges – like enabling flexible work from home options, safeguarding against new security threats and managing stores – while also following safe social-distancing guidelines.
At Cisco, we’re working to do our part by using technology to help our small business customers through this next phase of recovery. The new Cisco Designed portfolio is focused on simplicity and security, bringing together machine learning, AI and cloud-driven solutions to make buying, installation and maintenance simple.
Here are some of the most common IT challenges facing small businesses and how Cisco Designed solutions can help.
New hybrid work environments
Despite many provinces having entered stage two of reopening, many workplaces are mulling a partial return to work – or none at all. A recent study from Angus Reid Institute revealed only one-third of Canadians working remotely expect to resume working from the office as they did pre-pandemic, and most anticipate splitting time between their workplace and home, creating a new hybrid workforce.
With this newly distributed workforce, businesses need to look for permanent, secure solutions to meet and collaborate with each other and with customers.
The Solution: Modern collaboration tools have become a must-have, enabling people to be productive from anywhere, keeping employees connected, and ensuring work continues to move forward. Webex Work is a complete cloud collaboration solution that combines calling, meeting, and messaging services in a single subscription, with attractive flexible monthly pricing for small businesses.
Businesses are now supporting and securing a variety of users (employees, vendors, contractors, etc.) that are often working from personal devices, not on the corporate network. Cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of this shift to gain remote access to employees’ apps and data with stolen passwords, as well as exploit known vulnerabilities to target users, out-of-date devices, cloud applications, and remote access software.
With budgets already tight, hiring a dedicated IT security specialist may not always be possible. So how can you safeguard your employees and your business from identity theft, hackers, and internet attacks?
The Solution: With Endpoint and VPN security, you can protect yourself against threats from every device, no matter where users connect to your network. Cloud security, like Cisco Umbrella, also adds another layer of protection. Cisco Umbrella uses the Internet’s infrastructure to enforce security and stop malicious activity before a connection is made. And since there is no physical hardware to install or software to manually update, you can save time and reduce overhead when it comes to IT.
More and more services and business practices are being moved to the cloud, meaning employees need a secure network to consistently access their most important data and applications. Your network needs to be designed with reliability and redundancy in mind. This provides the business continuity you’ll need to bounce back quickly from any unexpected surprises.
The Solution: Cisco Business Switches are key to building a reliable, flexible, and secure business environment, so employees can work without interruption at the office or at home. The new series of switches provide essential functionality along with advanced security options at an affordable price. Together with the Cisco Business Dashboard, you can simplify the job of managing a business network, by automating the deployment, monitoring, and lifecycle management of the network.
As offices and stores start to see an uptick in foot traffic, businesses will increasingly need to enable physical distancing and real-time inventory monitoring to keep workers and customers safe, while also complying with any local regulations.
The Solution: With artificial intelligence cameras and smart surveillance, you can measure human density and alert workplace personnel as needed. Meraki cloud-managed smart cameras include high-quality video, wireless connectivity, and built-in analytics, reducing costs involved with sending traffic to a data center. One unit can cover an entire premise for a small business, offering a 360-degree view through a fisheye camera.
New office environments
Workspaces will not be able to look or function the same as before. Small business owners need to consider how they can keep employees safe and productive, while still maintaining a shared physical workspace.
The Solution: Cisco Webex Control Hub provides intelligent and actionable insights, enabling IT to manage all collaboration workloads on one screen, whether workers are at home or in the office. Through the hub, you can:
- Instantly deploy Webex Assistant, our voice assistant technology, to conference room devices to minimize the number of times the screen or touchpad is touched in shared spaces.
- Tap into deep insights about meeting room usage to influence cleaning schedules, and how a company plans the future office layout.
- Easily troubleshoot and support remote workers, so teams can remain productive.
A chance to win Cisco Designed gear
Could your business benefit from some free Cisco Designed technology? Tell us your small business story and you could win our Small Business Recovery Kit. For more information on how you can enter, visit our website.
Learn more about Cisco Designed at https://www.cisco.com/c/en_ca/solutions/small-business.html.
Lissa Ricci – Vice President Of Small Business Solutions for Cisco Canada
Lissa Ricci is the vice president of small business solutions for Cisco Canada. She is passionate about technology and how it can help growing businesses achieve their goals. Sign up for Cisco Webex now at www.webex.com/pricing/index.html