Cisco Prods Partners to Collaborate in Global Deals

Vendor launches an effort to have channel partners work with each other more closely to supply and service multinational customers in diverse geographies.

November 7, 2008

Al Senia

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Capitalizing on two growing trends, globalization and collaboration, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) is making an effort to bolster global sales among channel partners. The vendor's new Global Resale Agent Model, now being tested among 225 channel partners and 150 customers worldwide, provides a framework for partner-to-partner cooperation when local implementations are needed at customer sites in different countries or regions.

Under the plan, "host" partners who originate deals will be able to access a portal created in April called Cisco Partner Exchange to find other "agent" channel partners to act on their behalf in geographic areas where the host lacks a sales and support presence for "emerging multinational customers" that purchase Cisco technologies.

"It's a formal way of helping our partners collaborate with each other," said Alex Thurber, a senior director of worldwide channels with Cisco. "We think the multinational segment is a great opportunity for our partners."

Thurber said more than 4,000 customers are expected to eventually be involved in the program, which will not be fully rolled out until next year. Although Cisco is facilitating the collaborative channel effort, it will leave it to the partners themselves to work out much of the specific business deals.

"We are very carefully not inserting ourselves into the arrangements," Thurber said. "We are providing the tools and the technologies. But we are not going to get involved with 'Partner A' and 'Partner B'" in structuring the specific deals.

Cisco executives, including CEO John Chambers, have been pushing collaboration among partners and globalization of sales as key goals for more than a year. Thurber said the company may add a "Global Center of Excellence" for partners to learn the fine points of business practices in different countries. The center would act as a business information portal helping channel partners sort through the maze of business practices in different countries, explaining, for examples, how foreign exchange controls might impact business in the Chinese market.

Partners in the Global Resale Agent program are required to have a valid resale agreement with Cisco, as well as achieve Premier, Silver or Gold status in the launching country. They also must have the necessary specialization to purchase restricted access products from Cisco in the delivery country.

Thurber said one key factor influencing the development of the program is that the nature of globalization is changing. Rather than having companies move from developed nations into emerging markets, Cisco is seeing a multidirectional trend where companies from emerging markets are pushing into developed countries.

"Globalization is changing. The rise of the "BRIC economies" (Brazil, Russia, India and China) is changing this," Thurber said.

Channel partners said the move should help them compete more effectively in the global marketplace. “Expanding customer reach is a business imperative for our company," said Jim Kavanaugh, chief executive of World Wide Technology, a Cisco channel partner. He said Cisco's new effort "enables resellers like us to capitalize on the expanding multinational opportunity.

"By teaming with partner agents to deliver what our customers need, we now have a true global transactional network of solution providers for addressing this growing global market opportunity," he added.

(Al Senia is managing editor of ITChannelPlanet.com.)

TAGS: collaboration,Cisco,technology,channel partners,globalization

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