Channel Surfing: Cisco’s reseller promise

06 Dec 11

Cisco’s New Zealand partners will enjoy a revised, improved channel structure next year as the company enacts a push to simplify its business.

The company recently announced internationally that it will invest US$75 million worldwide to accelerate its partner model, with US$15 million reportedly to be spent in Asia-Pacific, Japan and China.

Kris Boyd, recently appointed Cisco ANZ channel strategy and enablement manager, says he is currently building the capability and coverage plan for Australia and New Zealand, which will feature a number of phases and will encompass all of Cisco’s focused and managed partners. The first phase will be announced in January.

Sara Adams, Cisco’s director, Partner Business Group, adds that the company has ‘had a real focus lately to simplify both our technology and how we work with partners’.

The company, which ran a New Zealand roadshow last month, is pushing an ‘equal, but not the same’ message for how it wants to treat its resellers, with a move from ‘spray and pray’ to a more focused approach.

"We’ve always treated them equally, and we will continue to do that, but not to treat them all the same,” Adams says.

"They will receive equal amounts of what they need, but what each partner needs may differ. There will be more flexibility.

"The market is in transition, with cloud and BYOD playing big roles, and what we need to do to be successful is to listen to our partners, be open and transparent and find out what they need to be successful. Because if they’re successful, so are we.”

Last month’s roadshow saw a strong focus on cloud. Boyd says while cloud has been spoken about for a while, in the early days ‘there was not necessarily any substance there’.

"Now, all of a sudden the substance is there – much faster than I expected, and not just at partner level, but for customers too.”

However, Boyd says there has been a concern among partners who fear having to compete with Cisco for cloud business.

"We are a 100% channel model and we are not going to build cloud offerings. We will be successful through our partners,” he says.

Adams says Cisco has made a commitment not to sell cloud services direct to customer, instead offering a cloud incentive programme to encourage partners to bring offerings to market. Cisco also recently took its managed service creation team in house, to focus solely on supporting partners.

"We will only attack this market through partners,” Adams says.

"But we will still be working to drive the market.”

The company compensates its own sales team in a way which ensures it won’t compete against partners.

Both Adams and Boyd agree that the SMB market has yet to get their heads around cloud – but when they do, the potential for partners, and for end users, will be great.

"The market is in transition and resellers need to sit back and look at what they offer customers to make a resonating argument for the move to cloud.”

Adams says the BYOD move – and the speed with which it is being adopted – is playing into Cisco’s hands.

"That area of collaboration is very much one of our key areas. So that [and cloud] are marrying two of our key architectures.”

Heather Wright is editor of The Channel. Go here to subscribe.

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