Partner profitability remains Cisco’s highest priority as it helps partners navigate through the ‘new normal’ business climate.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way we all live and work, but there was no reason for the business to change its partner strategy, its senior vice president of global partner organisation, Oliver Tuszik, said.
“Our strategy hasn’t changed, but has rather accelerated and we’re working daily to review the situation and helping our partners. Most partners are concerned about their profitability, and that will remain our highest priority,” he said.
“Together with our partners, we’re focusing on our customers - there are deals, we’re creating pipelines, having joint discussions and we’re winning together. We’re gaining market share in certain areas, we’re focusing on supporting our partners now but also preparing for the future.”
In order to help partners through this climate, Tuszik said Cisco released the pressure on all the certification needs, brought up some flexible programs and added more financing support through Cisco Capital with US$2.5 billion in financing at the centrepiece in April.
“As 90 per cent of our business is run through partners, this helped to free up credit capacity in the market and didn’t leave partners with the challenge of credit lines,” Tuszik said. “We immediately started to build up a team to focus on what this ‘new normal’ will look like, which isn’t only about a new portfolio, but also new ways to work and do business.
“While everyone is talking about what the ‘new normal’ will look like, the fact is, the ‘new normal’ is already here and we’re right in the middle of it.”
As more companies undertook working from home initiatives, Tuszik said Cisco was working in parallel with managing changes and balancing its diverse global supply chain. It created new offers with the first wave focused on working from home, supporting health care and local communities.
He added that COVID-19 brought out how businesses would react and service their distributed teams, which moves towards easy consumption, as-a-service models and shifting companies towards a digital world.
“It’s all about having more flexible infrastructure to react faster with the changing landscape,” Tuszik said. “A couple of weeks into COVID-19 changed company mindsets dramatically. Companies that had agile, secure and flexible systems with state of the art collaboration, had an unfair advantage in these difficult times.”
He also said customer experience was also an important focus.
“Don’t stop after you have sold the product, it’s about the experience and value you create,” Tuszik said. “The partner element in this is always about being unique and expanding it, what creates their edge, which not only makes them profitable, but also creates stickiness to the customer.”
Some of the top things partners were seeking the most from their vendor relationship, he said, was helping their business to survive in the current environment, serve customers and what they need to focus on, once the economy begins to pick up.
“Every partner is clear that IT will have a better future, we just need to get to the point and be prepared to be part of it,” Tuszik said.
“Partners will continue to see stability, continuity and predictability, which is the most important right now, because a lot of things are unpredictable. We will continue to support our partners with different programs and models during this time, especially in further ramping up the ability to get online training that is free for all partners through our Black Belt Academy.”
During Cisco Live last month, the networking giant made some enhancements to its Business Critical Services (BCS) 3.0 aiming to help partners “sell more services faster, grow business, and differentiate services from the competition.”
These enhancements include the Cisco Commerce Workspace (CCW) tool, which offers tier one partners the ability to manage transactions right from registration, quoting and ordering. Direct ordering will come into effect for tier two partners later this year.
Cisco also created new flexible multi-architecture, single package options for partners within the Essentials and Advantage tiers that are mainly focused on SMEs, governments and cloud providers.
This now allows partners to select a single package and use it across multiple architectures or select an individual package for each architecture, and get the entire number of available packaged capabilities for each of those; or a mix between the two.
For the first time, partners will also have the option to receive analytics and insights from Cisco experts that can be presented to customers.
Further, several improvements have been made to the incentive structure and BCS Essentials and Advantage tier partners can also access early adopter pricing globally.
A new BCS tier, Premier, along with new Add-Ons, were also introduced, but Australians will have to wait until later this year to take advantage of it.
BCS Premier is aimed at large enterprises and service providers set to offer “the right amount of intelligence and guidance, when, where, and how they need it.” BCS Add-Ons aims to plug the skills gap for organisations by tapping into Cisco talent and specialised partners.
The vendor will also be sharing service descriptions, best practices, and delivery templates to enable partners to sell their own brand of Add-Ons, and is looking into a partner-delivered option through a new specialisation in 2021. A new DevNet Specialisation was also revealed for partners with a software development practice.