Paul Mountford, the man at the helm of Cisco Systems' worldwide channels, met with a number of partners on his two-day whistlestop trip to Australia this week. Firmly on the agenda for the high-level meetings was to assure the channel that the networking giant is working towards returning profitability to its reseller's bottom lines.
Mountford attributes the lack of profitability in Cisco's channel partners to a 40 per cent overall reduction in the amount of business available, which has led to Cisco and its partners chasing sales out of their traditional space as well as the overall number of companies going for the "same piece of a much smaller pie".
To tackle the issue, Mountford is currently working on a complete organisational review of Cisco's global channel strategy and has flagged changes to a number of areas in order to better service its resellers' ability to expand their Cisco business.
The three driving strategies in Mountford's vision is to roll out the company's planned value engagement model, increase the amount of productivity tools available to channel partners and finally to increase top-line growth through emerging technologies.
In high-growth times, Mountford said Cisco signed up as many partners as it could to secure geographic and vertical market coverage. "At the time it made sense, but as the market changes, you've got to change with it," he said.
Now the focus for Cisco's channel will be to raise the bar on the vendor's specialisation programs and introduce new technology on a limited basis through select partners.
While Mountford skirted the issue of whether the number of Cisco's entry-level Premier partners would be pared back, he was resolute that it's certainly an issue.
"Would Cisco's channel be different if we started now? Yes, there'd be fewer partners," he said.