Cisco has unveiled plans to bolster partner engagement across Asia Pacific during 2018, equipping an expanding ecosystem as new technologies flood the market.
With the landscape dominated by cloud, digital and security solutions, the titan of the industry is under no illusions that both vendors and partners must adapt to address the new demands of the customer.
“Our top priorities with our partners for the next year are building a practice development along with enablement aligned to high growth technology with our partners,” Cisco vice president of partner organisation Asia Pacific, Vicki Batka, said.
“Creating new selling motions by expanding the ecosystem and transformation our resale process via programs that will strengthen our joint go to market and enhance the customer lifecycle."
Speaking exclusively to Channel Asia, Batka said such changes - fundamental in nature - will be underpinned by increased focus on security, as increased threats impact organisations across the region.
“Cyber security is no longer an IT discussion, it’s at the boardroom level,” Batka added. “This requires policy and constant revision.
“Another trend is the customer’s choice for a multi-cloud world, as we start to see to organisations such as Cisco build on its partnerships with key cloud players like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.”
Despite such a deepened focus, Batka acknowledged that security and data are two areas of the market not traditionally associated with Cisco.
But the tech giant, backed by a CEO in Chuck Robbins determined to instigate change, continues to pivot from historic routes into a vendor capable of capitalising on new and emerging technologies.
“Our business has transformed and evolved and our partners are having to up-skill their teams to embrace the new normal that really drives our customers on the path of digitisation,” Batka added.
“The market is changing at rapid speed and there are some amazing opportunities in front of us – including how we demonstrate to our customers our capability to deliver the secure intelligent platform for digital business.”
And for Batka, backed by an army of channel partners spanning Asia Pacific, this platform starts with security.
“Security should be the foundation of everything we do,” Batka added. “It’s about how we are reinventing the network with intent-based networking and enabling multi-cloud.
“Also, how we are unlocking the power of data from the cloud to the edge and improving the employee and customer experience by connecting everything and everyone through high quality collaboration solutions.”
The knock-on impact is a channel bursting at the seams with new players, spanning developers, builders and creators of intellectual property.
“In our region, we’re beginning to see partners that are more solutions driven rather than technology driven,” Batka observed.
“These partners understand that there is no one size fits all approach and that by focusing on business outcomes for the customer, instead of the technology, they’re creating a form of customer intimacy with the partner.”
But despite end-user appetite for innovation increasing, ongoing challenges remain for partners around digitisation, in the context of customer and employee experience.
“This is critical,” Batka explained. “Building a customer lifecycle practice is now the number one challenge our partners are facing.
“When you couple this with the buyer and decision makers being more informed and moving closer to the line of business, our partners are having to reinvent customer relationships.”
Coupled with changing customer demands, Batka said the channel also remains hindered by a lack of skills within the technology industry, an area the tech giant is trying to bridge via Networking Academy Talent Bridge.
Specifically, the program connects Cisco and partner employers with leading talent for the digital economy workforce of the future.
“We’re hoping that by bridging the talent gap we’ll be driving transformation of our partners business to help them sell more hardware, software and recurring offers,” Batka added.
Looking ahead, Batka said plans are in place to increase innovation levels across the wider Cisco suite of solutions, providing partners with a portfolio designed to deliver on the potential of digital transformation.
“We also intend to remove the complexity and keep things simple for IT and line of business,” Batka added. “Program simplification and ease of doing business continue to be key tenants of our partner program evolution.
“The channel is and will continue to be an essential part of Cisco’s business, and as a result our commitment to our partners remain stronger than ever.”