Cisco’s new Teaming Incentive Program to fast-track growth

San Francisco –At its annual Partner Summit, Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced to more than 12,000 solution providers several new initiatives and programs to help them “Write the rules. Own the Game.”

The new initiatives are around collaboration, video, the virtualized data centre, and the cloud highlighted by the Teaming Incentive Program.

With The Cisco Teaming Incentive Program, partners will benefit from an earlier engagement with the vendor to help increase their sales and value-add opportunities. The program not only encourages early sales engagements, but it also rewards partners for their investment.

With each customer deal, Cisco will determine which partner is entitled to benefit under this program based on a criteria which includes things like customer relationship, pre-sales investments, certifications and specializations.

Once this partner is identified and agrees to work with Cisco, the partner will receive a five-point differential discount advantage.

This new program complements Cisco’s other existing incentive programs which include the Value Incentive Program (VIP), Opportunity Incentive Program (OIP) and the Solutions Incentive Program (SIP).

The Teaming Incentive Program will be deployed using a phased-approach, starting in July, and the implementation is set for completion by the end of this year.

In acknowledgment that more partner-to-partner collaboration is necessary, Cisco also announced its Global Partner Network, which allows channel partners to collaborate with each other to better service their customers’ global business needs. Through the network, partners have the ability to act as the “host” partner in the headquarters location of a specific customer. These partners can also establish an “agency” relationship with another qualified Cisco partner or distributor to help meet the needs of their customers who may have more remote offices. The benefit to this is that the host partner actually owns the customer relationship and is able to design the solution architecture for the end-user.

Keith Goodwin, senior vice-president of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, thanked the thousands of global partner attendees, and specifically those from North America, for choosing to come to this year’s event (HP’s partner conference is also happening at this time).

“To our North American partners, we know you had a choice to attend our Partner Summit this year, so a big thank you. You made the right choice,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said Cisco will also make an online portal available to its partners in support of this network, called the Cisco Commerce Workspace. This portal will enable the host partner to manage their global opportunity and also helps to manage any agent relationship they have.

The Global Partner Network is currently in its pilot stage and the general availability of the program is expected in the fourth quarter of this year.

In terms of partner specializations, Goodwin said Cisco will also evolve its focus from technologies to architectures. Currently, the company has specializations around areas such as unified communications, routers and switching, but as part of this evolution, Surinder Brar, senior director of worldwide partner strategy and programs at Cisco, said the specializations will evolve to areas which will include virtualization, collaboration and Borderless Networking.

The Global Partner Network is making it easier for customers to work with their preferred partner,” Brar said. “Partners can manage their product and services delivery around the world without having to make additional global investments.”

In other related news, Edison Peres, senior vice-president of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, go-to-market group, also unveiled the vendor’s services strategy. Today, customers are acquiring and using technologies in ways they haven’t before, he said. Because of this, partners need to evolve in order to take advantage of these new opportunities.

For partners, customers will want them to come in early and be the trusted adviser to help them better understand how the technology works. In order to do this, partners will need to start their engagements earlier with Cisco and they’ll also need to collaborate more with one another, Peres advised.

To illustrate its “partner-centric” model, Peres said as part of its two-tiered services strategy, the vendor is currently sourcing out 500 transformational customers from around the world.

“We’re identifying certain customers around the world and we’re calling them transformational accounts,” Peres explained. “We need our partners to help deliver products and services into this space. These customers are early adopters of technologies and they’re complex in their business processes and they require a global architectural approach and a high degree of attention.”

The second-tier of this strategy is what Cisco’s calling partner-led Cisco-enabled, where partners will sell services with help and support from Cisco to further accelerate their revenue and customer opportunities.

“We know partners earn their rights to compete in the market through the services and differentiation they have,” he said. “Our job is to make sure that we’re enabling and investing in our partners. This is an umbrella strategy that we’re calling Services for Success.”

John Breakey, CEO of Oakville, Ont.-based systems integrator, Unis Lumin, said Cisco’s evolving services strategy will help the company better engage with its end-user customers.

“Forty-five per cent of our revenue comes from services,” Breakey said. “What Cisco has done is they’ve recognized the changing needs of customers and is providing more value for us and them. Cisco has recognized that they need to couple with us (the partner) in order to go forward with the customer.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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