Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

Nov 1 2010   9:14AM GMT

Cisco’s Edison Peres outlines channel strategy

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Edison Peres was recently named the new channel chief at Cisco, and I had the opportunity to sit down with him and find out what he has planned for channel partners over the next few quarters. Here is a basic rundown of Peres’ top five strategies and what Cisco partners can expect:

1.)   Build capabilities for architectures and verticals — Peres plans to help partners move from product orientation to more of an architectural practice and build capabilities in priority verticals, especially healthcare and education.

2.)   Earn loyalty by optimizing value exchange — According to Peres, for Cisco, the foundation of partner relations has been value-based vs. volume-based.  Identifying the value of the partners as the program evolves is a critical component in building loyalty — it’s making sure that partners see the value.  One of the key elements of how to work with partners is a collaborative sales model that provides incentive for Cisco to work with channel partners to deliver on what customers need. 

3.)   Improving ease of speed in doing business — Peres would like to simplify business processes and drive an easier and more cost-effective way of partners doing business with Cisco.

4.)   Enhancing the partner’s services value proposition — Services is where partners differentiate and drive profitability. Peres plans to dig deeper on services, especially processional services.  Five years ago, the average partner has 20% from services, and Cisco is seeing it as high as 50-60% now. Peres plans for Cisco’s program to continue to evolve in a way that has partners building business.

5.)   Evolve our channel to enable new business models — Meaning: cloud.  Enable the cloud as well as enabling partners to offer hosted services. Peres outlined three critical roles that partners play: cloud resellers, cloud builder and cloud provider. Cloud resellers upsell cloud-ready infrastructure and/or resell a managed service provider’s services; a cloud builder is a systems integrator who takes a cloud-centric offering and helps build these services in environments for end users; and a cloud provider is a managed services provider. Peres stressed that if these solutions are not evolved properly, partners will suffer.

None of this is really a surprise, especially the cloud focus. According to Peres, “the world is moving in this direction and how we help our partners move in that direction is critical in their longevity.”  It’s good to see that Cisco is taking a good look at how partners are doing business with Cisco, and want to make sure it’s as seamless a process as possible, because this is surprisingly rare. Other vendors want to keep partners happy, but often don’t think “how can we make it easier on the partners?”

And this is something that has been a problem in the past.  I spoke a reseller recently who, before Cisco’s recent web portal redesign, said he was getting increasingly frustrated with how Cisco organized his ability to check on programs and sales numbers.  Cisco listened, and now the portal is designed to be sleek and customizable.

So, what does this all mean?  It basically sounds like Edison Peres has his priorities in order. He outlined the Cisco strategy above, but he also outlined his own personal strategy to me — integrating and simplifying programs, ensuring partner loyalty not through coercion but with incentives, and looking to the future to constantly evolve channel programs and helping partners profit.

I’m interested in seeing how this plays out, and how the readers feel about what Peres has to say.  Drop me an email at ehom@techtarget.com.

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