Cisco has experienced a massive response to its Extreme Business Makeover competition, designed to transform South Africa's vitally important small to medium business sector.

The competition is running until the end of May and offers one lucky business the chance to have a free IT and networking makeover, transforming the chosen business in to a ‘lean and mean’ completely technology enabled and maximized company armed with the latest in networking, messaging and collaboration technology (dependant on business needs).
According to Odette van Wyk, Cisco Marketing Lead, “Cisco research has identified the local challenges faced by our SMB sector and how technology can help smaller businesses go head to head with the bigger companies out there and win- through using the latest technology to stay ahead of the competition in our current challenging economic environment.”
She says Cisco has had an amazing response from SMB’s to the extreme makeover competition. “Our number of entries has exceeded all expectations. We have had entries from SMB’s from all around the country. The response proves that local SME’s are increasingly looking to build an IT infrastructure that will present them with a differentiator.
"Our Easy Rent offering also launched by Cisco recently is complementary to our Extreme makeover campaign and enables SME’s to acquire infrastructure by lowing the barrier to entry through a conveniently financed rental package."
The Cisco Extreme Business Makeover competition is open to all businesses in South Africa, employing between 8 and 250 people, which have been trading for 3 or more years.  To take part and qualify for this contest, participating businesses will have to answer the questions that appear on the Extreme Business Makeover website at  on or before 30 May 2008.
A panel of judges comprising ICT and SMB industry experts will adjudicate the entrants to determine the winner.  The winning company will be announced in July/August 2008.  Cisco's experts will analyse the winning company's needs and instigate a renewal of its technological platform with Cisco integrated solutions including a brand new fully integrated Cisco network with Voice, Video, Wireless Communication and Desktop Applications.
“For years there has been a call for the larger IT industry players to be more supportive of the SMB market and provide enablers for them to grow,” says Val Moodley, Regional Sales Manager of commercial business at Cisco in South Africa. “Through campaigns such as our Extreme Business Makeover we are able to demonstrate that Cisco is responding to this call by delivering tangible support for this growing portion of our economy.
“Our research indicates that SMB’s are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding in their use of technology; they are now in a position to take advantage of what has always been within the realm of larger organisations.  Until recently, large enterprises had an edge over SMB’s with regards to emerging technologies,” Moodley explains.
As South Africa readies itself for the global stage in preparation for 2010 FIFA World Cup, SMBs will increasingly represent a major economic contributor to the country’s growth. Cisco has long focused on solutions that are smart, simple and secure for SMBs; in this case an SMB is classified as companies with between 20 and 250 users.