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Steve Simmons, VP of channels, Cisco Canada

Cisco delivered the most significant channel program this year. A plan based on fairness and profitability

After chopping its entire channel in half last year, Cisco Systems decided this year to reward its channel partners with more margins.

In what was easily the most significant new channel

program released in 2003, Cisco rolled out a new program to help sustain the profitability of partners dedicated to the networking giant.

Steve Simmons, vice-president of channel operations at Cisco Canada, makes the Top 25 Newsmakers list for his work in bringing this highly complex and detailed plan to ground level for the resellers in Canada.

The plan comes in three parts: discounts, technology and cost.

For example, partners in the past earned the same amount of margin for selling a desktop switch and IP telephony.

However, the cost of reselling an IP telephony solution is more complex than selling the desktop switch.

Cisco understood that resellers invested more time and more money into reseller IP telephony solutions and as such revamped its margins to address this concern.

Under the new program, margins for core technologies at Cisco such as routers and switches were bumped up from seven to 12 to 20 per cent.

However, advanced technology solutions for storage, IP telephony, wireless, optical and security will receive margins of more than 20 per cent.

Simmons also helped roll out the bi-annual Value Incentive Program in Canada, which gives certified Cisco resellers a 10 per cent net discount rebate after meeting the necessary customer satisfaction rate.

Simmons also made sure that customers were satisfied, especially with Cisco partners. Late in 2002, Cisco outlined a program called PAL, short for Partner Access Online. Cisco created this online tool to identify and hopefully solve issues or problems with its channel partners and customers.

With the online tool, partners will now be able to provide feedback on seven Cisco process areas: overall satisifaction, presales, tech support, global services, training and development, and tools. For Simmons, he was able to maintain high satisfaction levels for Cisco partners because of PAL.

Simmons also helped to implement global deals, such as one with IBM in Canada. The IBM deal would allow its reseller base to sell the Cisco MDS line of products.