Cisco’s partner organization chief looks to build his own legacy

LAS VEGAS – Bruce Klein, senior vice president of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, follows in the footsteps of Keith Goodwin and before him Paul Mountford.

Mountford was the executive along with Cisco channel chief Edison Peres who crafted one of the most progressive channel strategies in the IT industry: the Value Incentive Program (VIP). This program is currently in its 22nd iteration and has literally ensured the profitability of loyal Cisco channel partners for more than a decade. Goodwin, in his tenure running the Worldwide Partner Organization for Cisco, successfully built on top of VIP with popular programs such as the Solution Incentive Program (SIP) and the Opportunity Incentive Program (OIP).

One of the more memorable quotes Mountford gave to CDN, as he was transitioning out of the Partner Organization role to become the president of Cisco’s emerging markets business, was suggesting to Goodwin “not to screw a good thing up”. When Goodwin was last interviewed by CDN he refrained from suggesting the same thing to Klein.

But Klein does have his work cut out for him in terms of living up to the past performances of Mountford and Goodwin. CDN asked Klein about that in a wide ranging interview at the Cisco Partner Summit conference.

The following is an edited transcript.

CDN Now: The VIP program made Cisco one of the more progressive channel vendors in the industry and gave legendary status to Paul Mountford, Edison Peres and Keith Goodwin. What stamp do you want to put on the Worldwide Partner Organization?

Bruce Klein: How do I become a legend? I do think my passion is with the ecosystem and in year one I think the partners were skeptical and I understand that. Maybe they did not quite understand the value we were presenting. In last August they told me they could not believe how good it was going and now thought it could not move fast enough. I want that to be my legacy. I want to bring this out and make it easy for them to connect with Cisco. In a couple of years I want the value to be for every Cisco dollar I sell I earn nine dollars from my business value for my company because of what Bruce and his team built out. This is what I want to leave with.

CDN Now: What is your channel philosophy?

B.K.: The vision is to have the industry’s best partner ecosystem to accelerate profitable growth.  This is my vision and it supports the company’s vision of to work, live, learn and play. It’s my job to execute on this vision and support it with our partner ecosystem. With that we can help countries improve in the way they live, work, learn and play.

CDN Now: You have talked at this conference about channel recruitment. What kinds of partners are you looking for now?

B.K.: Software is key. We want thousands of ISVs. The top 140 ISVs bring in more than $22 billion in revenue. We want to attract developers and there are thousands of developers if you just look at the Microsoft community. The ISVs are for now with the Partner Ecosystem program and they are looking for platforms and we intend to be a platform company for them.

CDN Now: Does the Internet of Everything market opportunity need its own channel program?

B.K.: The Internet of Everything will play a role in the Partner Ecosystem program as we look to sell outcomes. We want them to sell to the line of business managers and sell transformation to the CXO and it will cut across everything we see in IT.

CDN Now: What are the channel roll-out plans for the Cisco Intercloud?

B.K.: Rob Lloyd (Cisco president of development and sales) introduced a large, global public Intercloud with eight to 10 ecosystem partners to help build that out. We are still working on that right now. There will be one partner in Canada because we believe data sovereignty is an issue and we’ll need the right partners in each country as a requirement. We got a good strategy with ruthless standards in the platform. Our platform that all these players will sign up for will enable them to add their own value on top of it. Whomever we choose in Canada can be able to scale globally with the Cisco Intercloud and win. Solution providers who want to attach their services can come to Cisco and add their value to sell to their own customers. But right now we are still working out the details.

CDN Now: There was a lot of news made at this Cisco Partner Summit, but not much on the SMB. How do you plan to enhance the SMB area?

B.K.: We are seeing more and more opportunities with SMBs. We have more of a focus on the mid-market with 250 employees and above. We have specific solutions for this space and with the Business Edition 6000 we are having discussions right now to extend that down into the SMB and look at what that product can deliver to an SMB customer who is under 250 employees. It’s going to be different for the partners. Today, we have solutions really for the 250 and up. The company is looking at that and from a wireless perspective we want to create on a road map for the SMB space.

CDN Now: The new Partner Ecosystem program you unveiled here at Partner Summit. What is the vision for this program and how will it matter in Canada?

B.K.: We need to build this ecosystem together. We can deliver on this ecosystem to drive higher margins. When you look at it from the outside and then look at the capabilities what is popping up is gaps with ISVs, consultants and developers. Small companies that are focus and have expertise. They could be new cloud partners with vertical expertise. So we are on a recruitment binge to build out the partner ecosystem.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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