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Cisco's channel strategy reacts to new challenges

By Anthony Caruana, Wed 18 Mar 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The channel is undergoing a revolution for Cisco. They are transitioning from a hardware company, shipping the routers, wireless access points and other equipment, into a services business as they introduce Cisco Spark and other services. We spoke with the director of the Partner Business Group at Cisco, Jason Brouwers.

"We will continue to do traditional types of business where it's selling to a technology buyer. But we'll start to transition where we'll move to consumption models. Cloud is already taking off. Enterprise licensing agreements will change the way we interact with our partners," says Brouwer.

A significant change is that Cisco is seeing itself as part of a complete technology solution is working more and more with partners in order to deliver complete solutions rather than just some pieces of a solution that would then be assembled by another integrator.

"What we're doing now is building consortiums. So, if you look at big data and analytics, we used to have to approach it from a technical point of view. By building a consortium with our consulting partners, technology partners, ISVs and systems integrators and resellers together we're able to go to the line of business and tell them what we can do and what we can package a big data and analytics solution".

For Cisco, this is a line of business sale where the skills and experience gained in one deal by a consortium can be transplanted into future opportunities. This is obviously good news for Cisco but also means their partners can move into new projects and opportunities.

"Let's say it's for financial services and a big data and analytics play, we can take the consortium to another financial institution," says Brouwer.

Brouwer says one of the benefits of the approach Cisco is taking is not trying to do everything themselves. Other hardware companies have tried to become services companies and had mixed success. Brouwer sees an opportunity for many different partners to leverage Cisco's market reach and for Cisco to push into new markets with partners.

The way new opportunities come to Cisco depends on the project.

"This is the beauty of it. In the case that there's four players in the consortium, they've all got different relationships with different areas, some with technical areas, some with the business. When we get wind of an opportunity we can then bring those partners together," says Brouwer.

Cisco is looking at how incentives work in order to incentivise and reward all of the players in the deal.

"We're putting in solution incentive programs. The value is still in the fact the customer is still buying technology to support the business outcome they want. Through that process we want to make sure we facilitate and help manage the process of bringing those players together. Through that we all win".

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