In the face of an increasingly stagnant market, Cisco Systems began rolling out a revised channel strategy at its global channel partner conference in Las Vegas last week.
The new-look program will be based on rewarding services revenue rather than volume sales, and builds on the changes Cisco implemented in its channel strategy at the end of last year, according to Cisco's senior vice president, Gordon Astles.
Late last year, Cisco released a series of specialisations in fields such as IP telephony, security and wireless to enable its gold, silver and third-tier resellers to differentiate themselves in the market, Cisco officials said at the time.
Astles claims Cisco is now set to brief its worldwide partners on further developments to the initiative, which will see recognition attributed to specific service areas rather than the amount of product sold. Additional specialisations will also be added to the program.
Astles was coy about revealing whether that recognition would take the form of increased margin, additional marketing collateral or other forms of compensation. However he did suggest the emphasis lay with value and not Cisco pushing resellers into certain areas of specialisation.
"If the emphasis was on pushing certain things then what you would do is say sell more and I'll give you more discount', which takes you back to quantity," Astles said.
The program will be launched officially here in September, according to Terry Walsh, Cisco's Australia and New Zealand managing director.
"Really what we're saying is that there is a smorgasbord of areas that [resellers] can take to the market. And rather than every channel partner having to look exactly the same as every other channel partner, it gives them the choice to say I'd like to be a specialist in this or that area," Walsh said.
Meanwhile Liz Lawson, Cisco's Australia/NZ director of channels, is confident the program will further buoy Cisco's channel partners in a tough market by extending its reach to smaller and niche reseller partners.
"When business gets like this, channel companies become more important than ever," claimed Lawson. "The specialisations we've had up until now have really been more enterprise focused. The next lot that are coming out are going to be service provider specialisations, so it's going to be cable, DSL, aggregated dial and WAN switching."
Despite the downturn, Lawson remains optimistic about the amount of business currently up for grabs. However she does admit it is a tougher market than it has been in the past.
Photograph: Cisco's A/NZ director of channels Liz Lawson