Cisco is creating new collaborative partner models to bring its WebEx technology platform to its unified communications (UC) channel.
WebEx, which Cisco acquired in May last year, is a software-as-a-service collaboration applications platform available in several customer-aligned versions. Features include widgets, presence, video, voice, web meetings and integration with UC.
Cisco recently unveiled WebEx Connect, which adds instant messenger, presence, specific applications, a buddy list and team spaces allowing people to share documents, blog and dialogues. The solution will be available in Australia shortly.
Under Cisco’s initial channel commission structure for WebEx, partners will get a 12 per cent fee as well as 8 per cent for registering a deal. They also get an 8 per cent annual rebate each year on customer renewals. Cisco has already rolled out the commission-based model in the US and Canada after piloting it in 20 countries including Australia. Partners need to have a Unified Communications specialisation to participate.
Senior director of collaboration solutions worldwide channels, Richard McLeod, said 10-15 Australian partners were selling WebEx today but hoped to add more.
“We need to increase our staff in A/NZ that are comfortable and understand what WebEx Connect is and roll that out to customers. That will be in the next one or two quarters,” he said.
At its Cisco Channel Exchange event last week, the vendor unveiled a second collaboration revenue model based around partners providing customised applications, services and billing through WebEx. The model will be rolled out globally this quarter and piloted for six months.
“This leverages off the traditional service provider model of WebEx and expands it to other partners,” McLeod said. “Some partners will be service providers, others will be our traditional channel. We expect 70-80 per cent of partners to pursue the commission plus annuity model.”
Global Cisco partner and UC Masters accredited integrator, Touchbase, participated in the initial WebEx commission model trial and will look to move to the new collaboration structure as it is rolled out.
“We will be moving to a collaborative model as we have a significant managed services business already,” Touchbase global managing director, Riordan Maynard, said. “It’s very attractive to build the interfaces in collaboration with Cisco and WebEx – it’s much like what we do with our contact centre desktop interface.”
WebEx was traditionally a 90 per cent direct sales model, with the remaining 10 per cent going through service providers.
McLeod said the challenge with its traditional channel was getting partners to understand the different selling approach. Cisco is working on new training classes and programs around business transformation and the technical aspects of collaboration and is also providing customer case studies, ROI tools and playbooks.
“We need to equip our partners on how you position this and approach a line of business manager – you’re not selling to the manager of information systems [MIS] director, you’re selling a supply chain improvement tool, a marketing broadcast tool,” McLeod said. “The good news is you’re tapping into a different budget.
“Our experience has been if we have people take this to the MIS director, it doesn’t sell. We need to train people to approach it properly. There’s also some technical skills and training we need to do. We have the first class underway this month, then we want to get that feedback and take the class across the US, to A/NZ and the UK. With that in place, we will be able to move into high-speed.”
- Nadia Cameron travelled to Cisco Channel Exchange as a guest of Cisco.