Change is in the air this spring at Cisco. At the company's recent Partner Summit, the networking giant unveiled a series of changes to its partner program. The announcements were made during a keynote by Edison Peres, SVP of Worldwide Channels at Cisco.
Peres opened up his keynote with a quote by Winston Churchill: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” While Peres cited the quote as part of his personal philosophy in life, the motto also applies to Cisco. The company knows that to survive and lead in the IT industry, change is a necessity.
“Everybody manages change differently. Some embrace it. Some don’t,” said Peres. But for Cisco, change is second nature. "One of the things that [partners] like about Cisco’s Channel Partner Program is that it’s consistent, predictable reliable…the only way that it’s remained consistent, predictable and reliable over the years is that it has continuously changed, it’s continuously evolved."
In the spirit of constant evolution, Cisco announced the next generation of its channel partner program. The modified program aims to prepare partners for the new business models that come with the Internet of Everything and the cloud. It shifts partners from being product-focused to more service-focused, with an emphasis on selling cloud and managed services and targeting customers outside the IT industry.
The new program will enable and reward partners for adopting new consumption models and have an emphasis on solutions, hybrid IT, and architectures. It was designed to help partners adopt the hybrid IT business model, delivering IT solutions both on premise and via the cloud.
Cisco's partners will see changes to the program’s certifications, specializations and incentives. In terms of certifications, the company has removed its silver certification, shifting partners to gold or premier and select instead. The gold certification will ensure all partners adopt the hybrid IT model, and actively sell cloud and managed services to a wider swath of customers.
“We have two objectives,” explained Peres. “Objective number one is to help enable the partner of the future. A partner of the future is that partner who actually has a strong hybrid IT business model who knows and is effective at selling to the line of business - more and more of the IT budgets in our customers’ hands are influenced by the LOB - and that you expand your services and you add solutions. And then second of course is to continue to drive up your profitability, and give you more opportunities to differentiate yourself as you go forward.”
In addition to changes to the channel partner program, Cisco announced an overarching program called the Cisco Partner Ecosystem. The new ecosystem will include the existing channel program, and its services program. It was designed to attract a broader set of partners, including independent software vendors, technology and Internet of Things partners, as well as consulting firms.
As part of the new ecosytem, solution partners will have a new Solution Partner Program. The program will help channel partners to deliver business outcomes, and use the new solutions to reach a broader set of customers, including new vertical markets like healthcare, manufacturing and finance.
Partners will have 16 to 24 months to meet the new requirements. Cisco is offering new specializations and incentives to help partners embrace the changes, and to create more value for customers by developing business outcome skills.