Cisco is looking to improve long-term partner engagement through a combination of industry specialisations and technical capabilities, its regional channel manager claims.
Speaking at the A/NZ Cisco Partner Summit in Sydney, the vendor’s Asia-Pacific partner organisation manager, Mike Allan, said channel engagement through to 2015 would be driven by its three-pronged architectural play – borderless networks, virtualisation and collaboration – along with on-demand IT consumption models and vertical market expertise.
“We have to work with partners to drive deeper vertical knowledge. Cisco’s job is to provide the horizontal network platform, but we want to work with you to drive vertical expertise with your customers,” Allan told attendees. He highlighted healthcare, manufacturing, finance and public sector as major opportunities across the region.
Allan also presented a regional survey of 220 customers undertaken in April to illustrate key trends influencing IT decisions today. These ranged from the need for always-on computing and the industrialisation of networking, to demand for process-based IT and consumerisation of technology. The research was conducted by Springboard.
What was clear from the survey was that partners needed to bring strategic business recommendations, as well as expert IT skills and capabilities to the customer table, Allan said.
“We have to work on our ability to link IT investments to business outcomes,” he explained. Allan also broke out results from the 50 Australian customers surveyed, which showed many were looking to invest further in their network infrastructure. However, 53 per cent reported channel partners were providing below-par services.
Another alarming statistic was that just 10 per cent of local customers surveyed believed partners played a critical role around as-a-service and cloud offerings. This was despite expectations that spending on these solutions would outpace traditional expenditure over the next few years.
To combat the threat of being shut out, Allan advised partners to develop various IT consumption models to give customers choice, as well as build up both technical and services expertise.
On the business enablement front, Cisco is offering to co-fund 75 per cent of its business outcomes training for partners up until June 15. On the technical side, it is developing a “toolbox” around its three architectures to provide partners with enablement, marketing, incentives, reporting and skills, Allan said.
Partner specialisations will also evolve to be more focused on its architectural play from the next financial year, he said.
“We are identifying opportunities, building solutions, wrapping IP, testing, marketing and jointly selling these solutions, while wrapped these with our vertical profitability program,” Allan claimed. “This is a unique opportunity to try and drive deeper conversations with customers.”
Cisco is also recommending more partner-to-partner collaboration and launched its Global Partner Network to encourage international engagements last month.
“We need to create a powerful partner ecosystem to deliver the value proposition that can answer these customer business requests,” Allan said.
Channel conflict was another area identified by Cisco as part of its ongoing engagement transformation. As previously reported in ARN, the vendor has stated it will not engage in more than 500 accounts on a global level and is working on transitioning these to partner-led business. Cisco launched the Teaming Incentive Program (TIP) to reward partners engaging early with these “transformational” customer accounts at its global partner summit in April.
“There is always a portion of the pyramid that will be customer-led and that demands Cisco in the solution. But we will be in there with our partners,” Allan said. “It’s not about Cisco versus partner business.”
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