Cisco worldwide channel chief Wendy Bahr spoke to CDN on a wide range of issues this week. Bahr has been working at Cisco for more than 15 years and at one time ran US and Canada channels. She is the first women to take on this significant role at the company.
Bahr told CDN that she spends most of her waking hours on the evolution of the worldwide partner organization since she took over from Bruce Klein back in August of 2015.
CDN plans to publish a Question and Answer piece in a future edition but here are the highlights from the interview.
Channel partners will remain a huge competitive asset for Cisco as close to 90 per cent of the company’s products are sold indirectly. However, the digitalization opportunity in front of not just Cisco but others in the marketplace means Bahr has to advance the partner strategy and programs.
With that she has developed a three pillar strategy that focuses on:
- Meeting the opportunity in digitization;
- Increasing alignment with partners; and
- Exchanging value with partners in new or different way.
No. 3 might be the most interested part of this strategy. Bahr said Cisco has found working with ecosystem partners on horizontal and vertical solutions to be eye-opening. Today, Cisco pays rebates in dollars and incents partners in dollars. Bahr is looking to change that up to provide solution providers with something that could be more valuable such as a proof-of-concept or engineering and marketing capabilities. This is similar to some of the arrangements the company has with ecosystem partners such as ISVs.
“I am not suggesting we will no longer do VIP,” Bahr said. But added this is a big shift that needs to be tested with the partner advisory council. “We are going to do this in a calculated and careful manner. This will be a measured effort,” she said.
Bahr also addressed the diversity issue in high tech. She realizes the impact her new role has on shrinking the current ratio between men and women in IT.
“I am thrill to have this role and very proud to be the first female in the history of Cisco to have this job. I think of all the other females at Cisco such as Kelly Kramer, Karen Walker and Rebecca Jacoby and the list goes on. For me it’s a privilege to have those females at the same company and it shows the IT industry is taking diversity seriously.” Bahr plans to talk to as many groups as she can about the IT opportunity for not just women but men as well. She believes the industry is making progress in this regard.
Look for an expanded Q&A with Wendy Bahr in a future edition of CDN Now.