Tech vendor offers unified, role-based program that includes a digital partner experience platform
Cisco Systems is overhauling its massive channel program to make it simpler, more agile, and based on the multiple roles partners play for their end customers and with the giant tech vendor.
The Lowdown: The revamped program, which will unfold over the next 12 to 18 months, was announced this week at Cisco’s virtual Partner Summit. The changes represent the largest reworking of the program in more than a decade, the company said.
The Details: The simplification is most represented in the plan to create a unified partner program that will consolidate almost a dozen separate programs under a single umbrella. At the same time, the agility of the new Cisco Partner Program includes enabling partners to better differentiate across the various aspects of their businesses, including reseller, MSP, and advisor.
The program is based on the four key roles Cisco says partners play: integrator, provider, developer, and advisor. Partners can focus on one or all four, depending on their businesses. The vendor is keeping its Gold tier for partners and enhancing the Premier and Select levels to enable partners to differentiate themselves with customers.
Cisco also is launching the Partner Experience Platform (PXP), a digital platform for collaborating with the vendor. The benefits include:
> Simplicity: The platform will bring more than 100 tools, applications, and portals already offered by Cisco onto a single platform.
> Productivity: Partners will be able to enhance their efficiencies, such as more quickly enrolling in programs and improving their ability to co-sell with Cisco.
> Growth: PXP will include insights that partners can leverage to monitor performance, optimize incentives, and explore growth opportunities.
> Roadmap: Partners will get a better view of where the program is going throughout 2021 via continued updates such as benchmarking capabilities and faster onboarding and enrollment.
The Impact: Cisco wants to put a greater focus on partner roles that go beyond reseller. Like other traditional infrastructure vendors, the San Jose, California-based company is transitioning its own focus from simply hardware to more software solutions and services, adapting to a more widely distributed IT world that includes clouds and the edge, and on recurring revenues. At the virtual partner conference, the company announced efforts to expand its role in hybrid clouds and to move forward with plans to sell more of its portfolio as a service.
Over the past several years, Cisco has pushed partners to similarly evolve their own businesses, and recognizing the multiple roles they play is a step in that direction. The goal is to help partners grow profitability by shifting the focus from the product lifecycle to recurring customer value. Cisco also is making the customer experience specialization a key focus for partners, counting it toward both integrator and provider roles and turning it into a requirement for Gold integrator status later next year.
The Buzz: “Transformation is accelerating now more than ever before and we need our programs and platforms to reflect how Cisco and our partners can best succeed together,” said Oliver Tuszik, senior vice president of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization. “These changes will deliver simplicity and allow Cisco and our partners to be more agile, relevant, and profitable. It’s about being ‘Future Ready’ for anything that comes our way.”
“2020 and the pandemic greatly accelerated the need for our partners to transform to deliver managed services and SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] to lines of business, to develop applications and automation on top of Cisco platforms, and to generate full customer value across the lifecycle,” said Marc Surplus, vice president of strategy, planning, and programs at Cisco. “We are taking a bold step to break down the silos partners feel between our various partner programs that will give our partners more freedom to differentiate and transform across the dimensions of their Cisco business.”
“We co-innovated and co-developed PXP with our partners to deliver a future-ready platform,” said Jose van Dijk, vice president of operations and partner performance at Cisco. “Our focus is to reimagine the digital channel and to empower partners with digital agility across the entire partner lifecycle.”