Cisco bets on software strategy for partners in 2019

0
B Raghavendran, Managing Director, Partner OrganiSation, Cisco India & SAARC

B Raghavendran, Managing Director, Partner Organisation, Cisco India & SAARC, shares the company’s channel strategies for 2019

Key highlights 2018 and opportunities for 2019
Today digitalisation accounts for 23 per cent of the total IT budget in Indian IT organisations. For us and our partners to stay relevant with our customers, speaking this language and adopting this sales motion is important. In 2018, global spending on digital transformation technologies hit US$ 1.3 trillion, an increase of 16.8 per cent from the previous year, as per an IDC forecast. While the individual state of evolution may differ in each sector, everyone is clear that digitisation is the way forward.

Another highlight of note is that 2018 has been a landmark year for the IT channel industry, as it marked a decided shift away from products to solutions, more so with an increase in services. The transition towards a more software and subscription-oriented strategy puts partners in an ideal position to capitalise on customers’ desire to establish, expand and accelerate multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud-based digital transformation initiatives around intent-based networking, network analytics and security.

Channel partnerships are more important now than ever and battling complexity is a big challenge for partners. 2019 will be the year; customers get the simplicity they need from their IT architecture. Enabling multi-cloud, driving automation, integrated security, SD-WAN will all be a part of this whole architectural transition and 2019 is going to be the year for that.

Top tech trends for channel community
In this new digital economy, simply selling a product is no longer enough. Customers are looking for solutions to help them deliver business outcomes that enable growth and profitability. To capitalise on this opportunity, it is important that our partners build new skill sets to make themselves relevant to their customers. In 2019, gaining expertise in new areas like industry 4.0, automation, data analytics, cybersecurity, ML, etc., will help partners better understand and deliver powerful vertical market solutions.

Security will be part of every conversation with customers this year, with sophistication and persistence of attacks showing no signs of respite. With shared risks in cyberspace, the need to work side-by-side with
partners on pressing cyber challenges will become increasingly important.
The emergence of software as a service (SaaS)–and its inherent subscription-based pricing model–has led to massive opportunities for the partner community. As customers do with any new technology or new way of doing business, they will need a smooth path to transform how they buy and consume software. Channel partners who lead with software will see bigger deals and will have more access to expansion opportunities to sell more products.

Channel directions for partners
With rampant digitalisation, the market has grown more complex, therefore getting to the root of the customers problem is best done through partners, and hence we invest heavily in these relationships. The power of Cisco’s partner ecosystem is grounded in our close working relationship with our partners. To keep pace with the changing technology landscape, we need to be in lockstep with our partners if they are to operate effectively.

The partners need a software strategy and Cisco is evolving its channel strategy to help partners capture new opportunities, refine software and service skills, and differentiate themselves in the markets they serve.
We also realise the importance of partners’ ability to articulate the value proposition to potential customers, and hence have implemented the three-tiered Black Belt program to serve this purpose. Under the Black Belt initiative, Cisco invests with individuals within the partner through sales, post sales and support services sectors, providing them with in-depth training of state-of-the-art network and other solutions to enhance the ability to articulate these services and what such architecture could do for a customer.

The evolution of our partner programs is a reflection of our continued commitment to improving the overall partner experience, strengthening our joint go-to-market initiatives, and ultimately ensuring our partners succeed in owning the digital transformation space.