Cisco Preps Channel For Changing Market With New Initiatives

Vendor points to evolution of partner model driven by professional services, collaboration, specialization.

Cisco Systems Inc. cautioned channel partners at its annual Partner Summit conference to adapt their business models toward professional services, collaboration and specialization to accommodate a transforming IT industry.

Accordingly, Cisco introduced three new initiatives, namely a program to reward channel partners for early involvement with the vendor on sales opportunities, another that offers a collaborative partner-to-partner global sales model, and new designations that shift the focus of specializations from technologies to architectures.

Keith Goodwin, Cisco senior vice president, worldwide channels, told the 1,000 channel partners in attendance that the advent of “four market transitions, namely, collaboration, video, the virtualized data center, cloud-based services, and, of course, the borderless network at the center of it all” have set the stage for “acceleration and return to growth for our partners.”

He said that the “convergence of multiple market transitions” is responsible for “changing the way customers acquire and use technology. To capture these growth opportunities Cisco and our partners must provide value in new ways and evolve our business models together.”

Partners must evolve to a “new services-based environment of the future,” he said.

Toward that end, Goodwin told channel partner attendees that Cisco’s so-called “transformational accounts,” some 500 large, global, intricate enterprises identified for their sophisticated command of technology and the considerable skills and qualifications required to support them, will be plumbed by those solution providers who attain architectural sales capabilities.

Of the three new channel add-ons, the Teaming Incentive program (TIP) incents channel partners to invest in consulting and professional services capabilities, preparation that the vendor believes will take on an increasing level of importance with high profile customers.

Cisco reasons that customers are more frequently demanding architectural solutions and complex delivery models and are best served by highly qualified channel partners, preferably those that have received the vendor’s seal of approval.

“We’re clarifying our product and services go-to-market model and empowering the partner services practice,” said Edison Peres, Cisco senior vice president, worldwide partner organization, go-to-market group.

He said that the teaming program stressed the importance of Cisco channel partners maintaining relationships with the vendor’s account managers.

“Early partner engagement and sales teaming are key to success in selling more complex solutions and delivering on new business models like cloud-based services,” Peres said.

“We know that services differentiates partners and that professional services are at the heart of their ability to accelerate profitability.”

Under the teaming program, solution partners that demonstrate pre-sales investments, joint account planning, certifications, specializations and resources in professional and technical services capabilities and offer themselves up for pre-qualification by Cisco to handle certain accounts will receive an additional 5 margin points for channel partners.

TIP is the fourth leg of Cisco’s program to incent channel partners, along with the Opportunity Incentive program (OIP, the Value Incentive Program (VIP) and the Solution Incentive program (SIP).

Vendor promotes partner collaboration on large, multinational accounts

Cisco also rolled out a new channel program, called the Global Partner Network (GPN), to encourage channel partners to collaborate with one another on multinational accounts.

“GPN enables partners to easily collaborate on global transactions,” Peres said. “It allows customers to work with their preferred partner to manage the product and services delivery around the world using a host/agent model. GPN promotes partner to partner collaboration in a new and simplified way.”

The GPN offers a framework for partners to work together to handle customers with locations in multiple countries, particularly in situations where a customer may prefer a local reseller to fulfill one aspect of a deal but simultaneously maintain a relationship with another solution provider it also trusts.

An online portal, called the Cisco Commerce Workspace, enables the host partner to manage the global deal.

“As the globalization trend continues, customers are increasingly looking to expand their operations into other countries but prefer to work with their local channel partner to deliver technology solutions,” said Mark Hilz, president and chief operating officer of INX, a Houston, TX-based solutions provider.

“Cisco’s GPN provides INX with the ability for us to collaborate with agent partners and conduct seamless transactions as we serve our multinational customers,” Hilz said.

Cisco also said that new training courses will help channel partners attain Business Architect and Technical Architect designations, to reflect a progression away from specializations earned by technology and toward the building of architectural sales expertise.

“We are announcing the evolution of our specializations from individual technologies to architectures,” Peres said. “These specializations are what partners need to complete to become certified partners.”

The vendor said it began the process about a year ago when it established incentives through its VIP program for channel partners investing in architectural solutions.

TAGS: collaboration,Cisco,channel partner,specialization,professional services

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