In part two of CDN’s interview with Cisco channel chief Wendy Bahr, the Old Dominion University alum discusses how channel partners in the Cisco ecosystem are changing, security, the evolution of the Value Incentive Program (VIP) and what’s in store for the attendees at the Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego.
The following is an edited transcript.
CDN Now: I looked at the number of global partners Cisco has and its at 60,000 or so today. To me that’s a big, daunting number. How do you look at it?
Wendy Bahr: It’s an amazing asset and what’s unique about it is they are from very small all the way to Master and Gold partners. This group does enables us to offer choice to the customer and every customer has a different set of requirements. The challenge here is thinking of these evolutionary moves we need to think about what will register to the most accomplished partners out there. Everyone is important and we are adding more partners to the mix with this ecosystem strategy or IOT. These are non-traditional types of partners or ISVs and we need to bring them into the fold. For these partners many of which are not traditional on the resale do have other unique capabilities and should get access to demo and lab gear or be better aligning with the sales team.
CDN Now: You have a lot of a great, well regarded channel incentive programs like VIP and others. What do you want to do in that area?
Wendy Bahr: The idea is simplicity and we are looking at all elements. I’m not saying we are reducing anything but how can we make them simpler. We have 10,000 skus in VIP so is there a way to make it a product family? Is there more leeway to sell here and not have it so tied to a sku but a set of products? Frankly the go-to-market motion that’s the discussion we need to have with the client and we are examining that.
CDN Now: You once were in charge of Global business transformation at Cisco under Mr. Goodwin about five years ago. Looking at the market place today trending toward digital transformation what did you learn from that experience that you can bring to your new role?
Wendy Bahr: My work with global strategy partner organization was precursor to this ecosystem and I learned how we were on this trend to bring in ISVs and other types of partners about five years ago. Cisco was just starting out with ISVs at that point in time and looked at cloud and consumption models and other changes and began to get an indication the buyer has to have access to capital and how that influencing the IT spend. I am grateful for that job and in the two years I was there I began to see early signs of this digital transformation. The idea of budgets for the transition out of the IT department and into the CMO or CDO. Its was also a precursor to IOT or IOE.
CDN Now: Recently Cisco released a security report and talking to Cisco executives over the course of last year I noticed a theme that the company wants to sort of embed security in everything they do instead of making a special area or separate area. Is that the plan for you going forward and how do you want your channel partners to work with security?
Wendy Bahr: We have absolutely security as the foundation of the Intelligent network and it is the No. 1 priority. The concern is people are spending time, energy and money defending the network and security is a fragmented market. Some customers have 50 or 60 security vendors in their network and that’s unmanageable. We have built a broad and holistic portfolio in the last three years and it’s a before, during and after approach to security we have with partners and also customers. Security is pervasive now in everything we do these days. We have a full suite of security services. The challenge is getting partners – to be honest – who have pre-existing relationships with other security providers and captured them for Cisco. We have done profitability studies and found partners who focus on security are the most profitable when it comes from services revenue. You will hear a lot more from us at Partner Summit on how security is integral and will be embedding it into the intelligent network.
CDN Now: You are doing two Partner Summits in 2016; is there anything you want to reveal in terms of a strategy on making them different to the same audience?
Wendy Bahr: We’ll have two this year to gain greater alignment, while I know its not a long distance with San Diego and San Francisco its better to have them close then skip a year. We want to show them commitment to the partners we have in the channel to stay interlocked with them.