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 email@example.com.]]>
While none of these additions are really a surprise, it is interesting that Avnet is taking such a close look at them. Energy, retail and financial are givens — verticals are hot, and with stimulus money still available in the energy sector, the retail sector growing again, and the financial sector in dire need of trustworthy partners who understand the regulations. With Avnet’s hands-on and in-depth training, partners are guaranteed a rich education about these markets.
The one I find most interesting is MobilityPath. Obviously, mobility is a major part of any company’s overall IT strategy. Mobility coupled with unified communications is the wave of the future for IT communications, and it’s important that resellers understand exactly how lucrative this field can be. The program specifically focuses on the concept of a mobile-ready data center — business applications that can be delivered to any mobile device, which is just an extension of said data center.
For more information about Avnet’s vertical market training, check out this Q&A on Avnet’s HealthPath University with David Hutchinson, VP of healthcare solutions for Avnet.]]>
What’s the point of all this? “The idea is to reduce the barriers to an open networking convergence,” said Rebekah Harvey, HP’s director of learning product management. “Professionals can differentiate themselves [with HP's certifications].”
The beginning level certifications start with the Accredited Integration Specialist (AIS) in network infrastructure, network security and IP telephony. This level is closest to CCNA/CCDA. The next level up is the Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE), in network infrastructure, wireless networks, network security and IP telephony. This middle level is closely related to the CCNP/CCSP/CCVP. The expert level is the Master Accredited Systems Engineer (MASE), in network infrastructure and wireless networks only. This is most closely related to (you guessed it) CCIE.
Essentially, HP will grant you certification automatically if you have the same requirements fulfilled from Cisco. The automatic certification will save partners a lot of time and actually generate interest in the program. If someone’s been in networking for 25 years and are a CCIE, would they want to have to start from the beginning? Absolutely not. And even if you aren’t a CCIE but have years of knowledge and experience, HP will administer an assessment to decide where to best place you.
For more information on HP’s converged infrastructure certifications, check out this news story from Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director for SearchITChannel.com.]]>
As we’ve said in the past, it’s a lot of work for networking solution providers to try to translate enterprise-level solutions to a solution fit for a 25-person company. And I’ve even heard from partners who say they previously avoided the space because they knew they would lose business to the Shoretels of the world.
But with these new developments, Cisco seems to be doing all that the networking giant can to encourage its partners to go after the SMBs. To see how useful these changes are, I spoke to Gary Nordine, CEO of NetXperts, a ten-year Cisco partner.
Nordine summed up the new portal in four simple words: “My Cisco is awesome.” According to Nordine, navigating Cisco’s programs before the new portal was not easy. There was no way to streamline all Cisco information in one page, so numerous reports would have to be run based on whatever programs the partner might be enrolled in, wasting time and energy when trying to prepare for a sales meeting.
“With this tool,” said Nordine, “my personal feeling is that Cisco actually cares about the partner again. I’ve been able to consolidate everything onto one page, and the page gives you a summary for every program you’ve been involved in.”
UC solutions aren’t only for enterprise customers anymore. Besides the new portal, Cisco has also introduced a line of IP phones, including an Office Manager customized by the reseller for the customer. A line of energy-efficient SMB managed switches has also been introduced, and according to Nordine, these products have made his job easier.
“We can deliver enterprise quality into an SMB market with some of these new products,” he said.
No one is trying to write a love note to Cisco here, as this may seem, but it’s undeniable that Cisco is unprecedented in its focus on the SMB client through its partners. Other vendors have comparable products, but don’t have the programs and support through the partner program for its partners. Most vendors simply don’t want to offer services and products for SMBs, saying that it’s not their “sweet spot.” Is the Cisco SMB program perfect? No. Nothing’s perfect. Every partner I’ve spoken to agrees that in the past, Cisco was not the easiest vendor to work with — but times change. It appears that Cisco has listened to its partners’ complaints about an inability to monitor programs and a lack of vendor/partner communication. And the partners couldn’t be happier about that.
“With the investment they’ve made in their partners, the return that’s come back to us has been excellent,” said Nordine. “They’ve really put their money where their mouth is, and they’ve lived up to their marketing about going after the SMB, about helping the partner through training and VIP programs. In a down economy, we’ve been able to grow and maintain profitability.”]]>
Unfortunately, not all people in IT have moved along. Jimmy Ray Purser, a blogger for Network World, recently posted this blog post, titled “Who’s the HOTTEST video game chick?” I personally love how “hottest” is capitalized.
Besides the fact that this has nothing to do with networking and it’s a poorly written blog, it made me go “hmm” because of the underlying sexist vibe behind it. Note to Jimmy: Women don’t like being called chicks. (Though in his defense, I guess he only called a couple of fictional characters “chicks.”)
But that isn’t even as blatantly sexist as this Network World post from Michael Morris, titled “Hottest Booth Girl,”, equipped with photos and captions.
“But, based on the votes from the expert panel of judges (ok, just the geeks on my team) the winner of this year’s Hottest Booth Girl Contest goes to Bluecat Networks for the race car girls. These ladies were definitely too tall for me (not that that matters at all!). ”
So the “geeks on his team” wandered Cisco Live combing for the “hottest booth girls” they could find. I don’t know what’s worse — that this guy is blogging about it, or that Lancope paid two busty Asian women to don ninja “outfits” (I use the term loosely… the term outfit infers that the body is actually covered) to attract men to the booth.
Come on, people. This is IT — it’s not a bikini car show. And I am NOT a prude. I do musical theater — we prance around in lingerie on stage all the time. I have no problem with scantily clad women being where scantily clad women are expected — I don’t expect to see Katy Perry wearing a full business suit when she performs at the VMAs. Bring on the “Daisy Dukes and bikinis on top.” But I also don’t expect to walk up to a Bluecat booth when I’m working and be towered over by two semi-naked models dressed like race car drivers hired to attract men with their “assets.” It makes me not want to hear anything Bluecat has to say.
For the record, I have never been leered at or treated inappropriately at a channel conference. The only time that has happened is at non-channel conferences, and I’m starting to understand why. And I would have the same issues with it if vendors hired semi-naked gorgeous men to do the same thing.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from both ladies and gents. Have you seen workplace sexism, or been the victim of it? Do you think it’s something we should just learn to deal with, or do you think it’s disappeared? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.]]>
What does this mean for networking solution providers? Brocade is obviously not as large as Cisco or HP, but what they do, they do well. With the acquisition of Foundry, Brocade’s SAN products became some of the best in the market. And judging by recent technological trends, storage and network convergence is becoming more and more commonplace, plus creating more business for Brocade’s networking partners.
Brocade is also coming out with a virtual cluster switch later this year, which many say will put the company on the map as an innovator. With a virtual cluster switch, plus Brocade’s expertise with SAN, Brocade could begin to make serious waves in the data center consolidation and convergence business. This means that Brocade’s networking partners will be able to offer whole data center networking solutions, expanding portfolios and profit margins.
For more information on Brocade’s partner program, check out this Channel Chat with Barbara Spicek, vice president of global channels.]]>
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/2yCTcRF6ObE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
What kind of marketing is this? Granted, people will talk about it. And I sent this link to every channel-related friend I could think of, so I guess it’s sort of gone “viral.” But at the same time, I watched that entire video, and I don’t remember a single thing that was said about the channel program. All I can remember are the attempts to put on high heels and Rajeev’s horrendous wig. Shouldn’t the joke of the video not take away from the actual message?
Editor’s note: I discovered on 7/29/2010 that Juniper took the video down. I am not sure if they wised up and realized how foolish it was, but regardless, now Juniper is showing that they really don’t have a sense of humor. Instead of owning up to the mistake, the company is backpedaling. For those of you who didn’t get to see it, it was two channel execs describing the channel program while stripping down and getting into women’s clothing.
This also could be read as offensive. At no point does Juniper explain why these guys are getting into drag. Is this Juniper’s way of saying they’re friendly with the transgender community? Are they mocking the transgender community (probably not, but it might be construed as such)? Is this an homage to the Rocky Horror Picture Show?
Here are a few comments from friends involved in all aspects of the channel and IT at different companies, including writers, editors and marketers (so arguably, the targeted audience of this video), all culled while watching the video:
Plus a few more that are too colorful to put in print. So it’s really not just me! Everyone who has seen this has had the same reaction — no memory of the actual important content of the video, but a solid memory of Rajeev putting on makeup in the background. Perhaps this is what Juniper intended — for no one to actually hear what was said, just to make people laugh.
Maybe this was a video that was meant to be shown at a conference as a joke, and somehow made its way onto YouTube without the context of an event. If so… then it was probably a misstep to put it out there without any context at all. If this is Juniper’s way of showing that they have a sense of humor, the marketing people may want to tweak the strategy so that they’re doing it without possibly alienating a community and its supporters.
In conclusion, if I’m going to watch a bizarre movie featuring men in drag, I would rather watch this:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/m_jzsWofTY4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
What are your thoughts on the video? Do you know something about this video, or have context for it that viewers (and I) should know? Email me at email@example.com. I’ll be doing the Time Warp in my cubicle the rest of the afternoon.]]>
In this “survival” mode, it seems that most VARs ended up exercising, well, good business practices. While I understand that the recession made people cinch their belts a bit tighter, I would hope that most VARs continue to explore these business practices of making sure they were at the top of their game in terms of customer service and quality of service. Verticals are going to continue to be the place to be, with so much money being pumped into federal IT spending and health IT spending.
Here are some comments from the survey:
- “Stay on top of service…100% outstanding service.
- “Be more efficient with staff on hand
- “Never overextend equipment leases
- “People are more willing to repair their equipment in an attempt to be more efficient with what they have.”
- “Business needs to be diversified across public and private sectors and through vertical channels
- “Selling cycle got longer.”
- “Never trust the bank, but keep them happy in case of a rainy day when you may need financial support.”
So, what does this mean for partners? Wendy Bahr has always been a friend to partners, and those are some hard shoes to fill. But in her new role, it appears that she can take her expertise to a global level. Edison Peres, in the new role of channel chief, isn’t stepping too far out of his comfort zone.
But it’ll be interesting to see how all of this plays out and who ends up stepping into the empty roles. We’ll also be keeping an eye on Cisco’s further commitment to building out its SMB channel.]]>
According to this story from the New York Times, Dell has known for years that it sold millions of computers with faulty capacitors in the motherboard. Internal emails suggest a cover up and urge employees to “emphasize uncertainty” to customers. A study from Dell suggests a 97% fail rate for computers with these capacitors.
That’s a lot of failing computers. And all of those businesses who purchased Dell computers with faulty capacitors are going to need someone to come in and save them. For partners of vendors like HP, this is a great time to start pushing your products. While the bad capacitor influx a few years ago affected all vendors, it appears that it has affected Dell far worse than its rivals. Hit hardest were Dell’s OptiPlex desktop computers, sold to business and government customers. And Dell did not issue a recall of any sort to alert customers that something may be wrong with their computers.
These aren’t customers who need their computers to upload pictures or other leisurely activities. With a business and government business at hand, it’s pretty important that the computer works. Even worse, customers allege that their data was lost, which Dell denies.
So partners out there had better roll up their sleeves and get ready to push some non-Dell products. This is prime time for Dell’s competitors to make a push for new business. What’s most interesting to me is the last paragraph of this story:
“Dell salespeople were told to emphasize that the company’s direct model allowed it to identify and fix problems faster than competitors.”
So fast, huh? This went down in 2005. It’s 2010! Five years! Besides the fact that Dell just thumbed its nose at its partners and their ability to fix Dell computers, five years is not how long it should take to fix this.]]>