Cisco Wants to Lend a Hand with Internet Business

In the business world good help may be hard to find, but deploying and managing Internet-based solutions could get a little easier, especially for those already Cisco Systems Inc. ( for many of their networking needs.

Cisco formed the Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) to assist its customers by providing the knowledge and experience of Cisco's own Internet developers. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., the IBSG is composed of IT professionals and vertically focused industry experts. Cisco is working with customers to help them understand and maximize the value that Internet-based business practices and applications can bring to an organization.

"We have documented what Cisco has done in the Internet area," says Jennifer Fisher, Cisco's IBSG marketing manager. "By using industry-best practices and working with other vendors to incorporate their practices, we can help our existing customers."

There are fours major components to the program. The first is Employee Services, which covers many internal Web processes, such as benefits online and generating expense reports. Internet Commerce taps a lot of Cisco's own trials and tribulations to help with the implementation process. Customer Care focuses on contact centers and takes a look at how companies can leverage Web technology to replace some customer service responsibilities. Finally, Supply Chain Management helps integrate suppliers and business-to-business e-commerce.

The IBSG is using several techniques to bring its solutions to customers, developers and consultants. Methods include face-to-face customer advisory sessions, multivendor-sponsored seminar series and training sessions on Internet-powered solution frameworks. Those frameworks include detailed case studies, white papers, reference network architectures and recommended best practices.

Fisher explains that IBSG gives Cisco sales people an additional value-added tool when they walk into a customer's data center. Cisco personnel often evangelize what can be done with the Internet, and the IBSG is a way of putting some muscle behind that hustle.

The Internet success of Cisco doesn’t hurt either. By its calculations, Cisco says it saved $75 million in operating its supply chain and $12 million in employee services costs through Internet enablement. In all, the company touts saving over $550 million in operational costs by moving its operations to the Internet.

"Overall, Internet-based applications have enabled us to dramatically increase revenue and greatly improve customer satisfaction, employee productivity and supplier relationships," says Sue Bostrom, vice president of IBSG. "The Internet Business Solutions Group was formed to help customers reap similar benefits in their business," she says.