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Diary 1 - 'Small business can be big business'

David Elton

The Guardian

20 January 2009

PA's on-line diary of an experiment in IT enabled change: working with Cisco to help grow bespoke travel company Black Tomato

In his first diary entry, David Elton, IT and change management specialist at PA Consulting, mulls over his first meeting with Black Tomato and Cisco, which took place late last year.

Bedfont Lakes near Heathrow on a cold December day. Not, I suspect, a favourite Black Tomato destination. Never mind; inside the Cisco building, a lively group has already gathered and the welcome is warm. Ruhi and Nicole are there from Cisco; Jide from the Cisco reseller. The client arrives shortly after, in the form of Claire, from Black Tomato. We're good to go.

The Cisco presentation is impressive and the technology ideas beguiling. Part of my role on this project is to ensure that Claire understands what impact the technology will have on Black Tomato.

Claire is excited. She can see real possibilities. Webex (soon to be Webex Connect) grabs her attention. I agree, it could add a lot of richness to their interactions with their clients.

And there's more. Internet protocol (IP) telephony will feature in the solution Cisco is supplying. It's likely to save Black Tomato money, but more importantly will change they way they work. Precisely how will be thrashed out at the scoping meeting – we'll see a demo then and also get our hands on the detailed implementation plan.

Launch date for the technology is early January, and Black Tomato is rushed off its feet until Christmas – it's always a challenge for any business, and perhaps a small business in particular, to devote time to a major IT project like this.

But it'll be worth it. I am impressed with the Cisco idea - small business can be big business, and their technology is good for any business.

On the train back into town I chat to Claire, who is headed in the same direction. She is still excited. Good. I believe this will all work out just fine.

More on this.

The Guardian - Diary 2 - The phone system is in, 10 March 2009.

The Guardian - Diary 3 -  Black Tomato is optimistic, 17 April 2009.


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