Cisco Partner Summit 2010: Cisco admits to partner frustration

Networking giant announces new services specialisation and rewards programs for partners at its global channel conference

Cisco is aiming to address a number of frustrations in its channel engagement to ensure partners can take advantage of a faster-than-expected global recovery.

Speaking at the Cisco global partner conference, the vendor’s senior vice-president, worldwide partner organisation, Keith Goodwin, recognised some of the difficulties partners have had, and said resolving them was key in addressing market opportunities created by the economic uptick.

“Over the last five years, the feedback has been that Cisco needs to be easier to do business with,” he said.

Early steps include the global rollout of channel booking neutrality, as well as the My Cisco portal, a scalable platform aimed at easier partner engagement, Goodwin claimed.

Partner profitability is also a major focus. Despite being a 100 per cent channel oriented organisation, Goodwin acknowledged a perceived level of competition with the channel in some of the high-touch, tier-one customer accounts.

Cisco has identified 500 of these “transformational accounts” globally where the highest tension with the channel is found. Transformational customers have been identified as tier-one, early adopters of technology and are complex with what they want.

In a bid to give partners more opportunity in these accounts, the vendor will launch its first services specialisation. Although Cisco will be active in offering services to those customers, it will be in a complementary fashion to the partner's engagement, its senior vice-president of worldwide partner go-to-market group, Edison Peres, said.

"Through the new services specialisation, we'll encourage partners to understand and invest in services capabilities, and those partners that obtain it will be preferred in those transformational accounts," he said.

Cisco has been seen as in competition with partners around large services and support accounts in the past, Peres said. In light of this, the vendor has adopted a new compensation policy to ensure neutrality for partners.

Cisco has also unveiled its Teaming Incentive Program (TIP) at the partner conference, which was trialled in Latin America over the last year. Through the program, a Cisco account manager will identify a qualified partner to bring into the early stages of the customer qualification phase. Criteria will include the ability to add services, as well as having appropriate certification, pre-sales investments and market understanding.

Cisco will give an additional five discount points to those partners as an incentive, and will additionally maintain it if it goes to a non-standard dealer service arrangement (DSA). Previously, if it went to DSA, it would lose the extra discount points.

Finally, the vendor announced development of its Global Partner Network program to facilitate continued collaboration between channel organisations expanding outside of the US. All of the new programs have been slated for full rollout in Cisco's first fiscal quarter in August.

Check out the full details of the TIP and Global Partner Network programs here.

Matthew Sainsbury travelled to Cisco Partner Summit as a guest of Cisco.