San Francisco –Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced at its Partner Summit that it will be evolving its partner specializations strategy, shifting from a technologies to an architecture-based approach.
Rob Lloyd, executive vice-president of worldwide operations at Cisco, said that instead of going to market by focusing on the competition, the company will focus its efforts on developing partner programs in support of market transitions such as, video, collaboration, the virtualized data centre and the cloud.
“This is where we’ll make our huge gains in the market,” Lloyd said. “When customers ask ‘Why Cisco,’ I tell them it’s because of our network-centric approach, where the network is the platform for everything we do.”
Surinder Brar, senior director of worldwide partner strategy and programs at Cisco, said as part of this network-centric strategy, the company has decided to evolve its partner specializations to shift from a focus on technology to architecture.
“Our traditional resellers today are making their money through break-fix services,” Keith Goodwin, senior vice-president of Cisco’s worldwide partner organization, explained. “In the future, we’ll see partners offering more high-level, professional services. We’re empowering our services business because this is where partners will drive their margins and profitability.”
Goodwin explains to help keep up with market trends, Cisco will be changing all of its partner specialization content to focus on architecture, instead of technology.
Edison Peres, senior vice-president, of Cisco’s worldwide partner organization, go-to-market group, said the partner specializations are centered around training, and Cisco is shifting its focus from a product and technology orientation, to helping partners understand the benefits of architectures.
Brar mentions that nowadays, customers are looking for architecture-based solutions, instead of just technology.
“This is why we had to update our training content to focus on architecture,” Brar said. “When we move to an architecture-based specialization, we expect partners’ services mix to become even larger with more professional and advanced services offerings. This is more profitable for the partner because they’ll be able to drive more sales.”
While the content in these specializations will change, Brar says that the way in which Cisco will deliver the content will stay the same. The company currently offers its partners complimentary e-learning training, in addition to optional instructor-led training, which has different fees associated with it.
By July of next year, all of the content as it relates to partner specializations will be around architecture, Brar said.
Paul Edwards director of SMB and channel strategies at IDC Canada in Toronto, said the evolution in Cisco’s partner specializations is an important step in helping to solve business issues.
“It’s important for Cisco to go down this road because it’s really a different way for partners and customers to think about the network and to see how technology is addressing business issues,” he said. “Partners will need to be able to speak to this higher-level perspective, instead of just technology. This will help Cisco and its partners compete and it’ll help raise their profiles (in the market).”
Edwards says that while this is a step in the right direction, changes will not happen over night.
“Partners will have to build out their professional services capabilities,” Edwards said. “This is something that won’t just happen today because partners will have to evolve their businesses. This is a big change for partners and there’s a certain level of hand-holding that needs to take place between the vendor and the partner.”
John Breakey, CEO of Unis Lumin, based in Oakville, Ont., said Cisco’s evolution of its partner specializations is something that will help partners, like himself, in the long-run.
“This evolution is more of a process than technical and it’s about helping customers use technology, rather than just deploying it,” Breakey said. “The content is around how to deploy and sell architecture, which is something that our customers are asking for.”