Partners across Asia Pacific (APAC) are moving towards a more solution driven approach, focusing less on technology and more on business outcomes for the customer.
This solutions-driven approach “will see partners work on their strengths while providing other partners with the opportunity to compliment them in areas where they may be a skills gap,” said Clarence Barboza, director of channel partner organisation, Cisco.
According to Barboza - when speaking exclusively to Channel Asia - such an approach is leading to more opportunities across the ecosystem, as partners focus less on simply reselling from a vendor and more on offering a total solution with value-added technical expertise.
"For the past couple of years, our global channel chief Wendy Bahr has been talking about routes to market and while clearly, our resale route is our biggest route,” explained Barboza, "the partner ecosystem is an amazing route opportunity.
"Traditional partners are pairing up with our ecosystem partners to provide an opportunity that may have never existed five years ago."
This pairing up is producing favourable results for the enterprise networking vendor, with consultancy firms allowing the company to be at the heart of an organisation’s digital transformation discussion.
On the other hand, Cisco continues to build its relationship with independent software vendors (ISV) as a means of enhancing the customer experience with complementary solutions within the ecosystem.
This is exemplified by Cisco’s partnership with Google Cloud announced late last year to deliver a hybrid cloud solution that aims to help customers maximise investments across cloud and on-premise environments, easing cloud migration and avoiding vendor lock-in.
The key to enabling partner success, according to Barboza, is providing partners with innovative, dependable and secure technology.
“With innovative, dependable and secure technology, there needs to be a rich and diverse ecosystem of partners joining forces to design innovative customer solutions,” said Barboza.
To some degree, the vendor appears to be on the right track, recently receiving an ROI award for outstanding achievements in digital engagement, partner enablement and customer success from global B2B research firm SiriusDecisions.
In a blog post from Scott Brown - senior vice president, global virtual sales and customer success at Cisco - the biggest challenge is "putting in place a comprehensive digital infrastructure, powered by data science and analytics, to engage more effectively and proactively with customers across every stage in their journey with us.”
A number of factors led to this success, including implementing an automated renewal notification, which increased the renewal rate by 29-points higher than customers not touched with such a notification.
Furthermore, following post-sale adoption campaigns 65 per cent of targeted ‘unheathly’ customers completed their product activation, making the transition to a ‘healthy’ customer state.
In addition, the first half of 2017 saw hundreds of thousands of emails to customers on behalf of Cisco partners automated through the Lifecycle Advantage program, which addressed nearly half a billion dollars in service renewal and technology refresh opportunities, benefiting both customers and partners, and leading to a 17 per cent increase in renewal rate.
“We have developed a clear go-to-market roadmap with a value exchange encompassing partner enablement, training and incentive programs that help them capture these new digital opportunities,” said Barboza.
"We have done this together with our partners rather than doing so without their feedback, because 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."
Looking ahead, Barboza sees three key technologies that will continue to gain traction as organisations embark on digital transformation strategies, spanning multi-cloud, data and security.
"Embedded within the fabric of these technologies would be analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to remove the complexity for IT,” added Barboza.
"The market is changing at a rapid speed and there are some amazing opportunities in front of us, including how we, together with our partners, demonstrate to our customers our capability to deliver the secure intelligent platform for digital business."