Our heritage around partnerships will help customers thrive in the new normal: Oliver Tuszik, Cisco

Oliver Tuszik, Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization

It has always been Cisco’s mission to offer continuous support to partners so they can provide the best service to their customers; and this pandemic couldn’t be a better example of that. From the free offers, to the extensions on certifications to the financing options, Cisco’s support is unwavering for its partners. In an exclusive interaction with CRN India, Oliver Tuszik, Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization shares more insights into the company’s efforts to ensure its partners feel limited impact to their businesses

How do you assess the current global crisis, and what are some of the learnings that can help partners?
While there is currently an incredible demand for IT and enabling people to work from home, including connectivity, remote collaboration and security, we are anticipating various challenges as a result of the global economic slowdown. However, our partners, including those in India, remain confident in Cisco’s positioning to manage through this.

Our partners recognise that Cisco is the only company which has been developing the capabilities needed to help customers in what will become the ‘new normal’. Intelligent networking, secure connections, and sophisticated collaboration will be even more vital, as we adjust to new ways of working and living. I believe we are going to see fewer in-person interactions in the near term, resulting in a greater reliance on secure connections and endpoints, an increasing appetite for managed services, and even greater IT agility. All of these play to Cisco’s and its partners’ strengths and, together, we are able to help our customers thrive in the new normal to come.

Tell us about Cisco’s preparedness to tackle such unprecedented situations
With our networking, security and collaboration portfolio, Cisco and its partners have been enabling customers to work virtually for many years. Hence, we were already prepared from day one.

At the onset of the pandemic, and as businesses began quickly transitioning their employees to work from home, Cisco provided free collaboration tools and security offerings, along with a suite of cloud-based services to get customers up and running quickly.

This March, we recorded nearly 14 billion meeting minutes, which is more than double from February. Additionally, in one day alone, Webex handled 4.2 million meetings, more than twice the average on a peak day before the pandemic. Cisco Security has added more than nine million security users since the start of the security offerings on March 10, and the number is growing exponentially every day.

Over the last month, many teams across Cisco have been working tirelessly to address this pandemic and meet the needs of our partners and customers. Our manufacturing, component suppliers, and logistics operations teams have been focused on re-routing orders, expediting alternate supplies, and adding manufacturing capabilities around the world. We are doing everything we can to ensure our partners have access to the equipment and connectivity they need to help their customers stay productive.

Like other verticals, the IT industry too will be hit hard by this prevailing condition. Since Cisco is a partner-centric company, what kind of impact do you anticipate on your partner ecosystem, and how do you plan to limit the impact on their business?
With about 60,000 partners around the world, the impact of this situation on their businesses will vary. For some partners, there is significant concern around cash flow and how long they can weather the storm when their sales and professional services have slowed. For others, it is the inability to have face-to-face meetings that’s causing them to scramble and adjust their pipeline and sales strategy. Whereas, some partners are anticipating consolidation and the potential of mergers and acquisitions.

Given the scope and impact of this pandemic, it is fair to say that most of our partners will see a direct impact from the expected economic downturn. At the same time, we believe that our partners will also benefit from the increasing demand for IT, as customers have to adapt to this changing environment. In fact, when the COVID-19 pandemic passes, we expect an even higher demand for digitisation of existing business models along with an ongoing shift to more agile work environments supported through an increased adoption of SaaS and managed services.

In addition to our free Webex and security offers, we have quickly ramped up a few of the initiatives that we believe will be of additional benefit to our partners. We also understand that partners may face increased financial burden. Here, Cisco Capital is committed to supporting them with a broad range of flexible payment solutions that can help them get paid promptly, manage their cash flow, finance the total solution, and pay over time.

We also recognise that partners may be impacted by travel restrictions and, hence, we want to assure them that their Cisco certifications, specialisations and authorisations will not be impacted due to their inability to complete a training or take an exam.

We also know our partners and their customers are dealing with urgent IT projects that were likely not planned or budgeted. As part of Cisco Refresh, we provide competitively priced and pre-owned solutions across all Cisco technologies, including both current and end-of-life products. Our remanufactured equipment is offered with a new warranty and made available in over 80 countries.

Has this called for re-alignment of your go-to-market strategy? Any changes/modifications being done in your partner programme, financing schemes, etc?
Our go-to-market strategy has not changed. The current situation is reinforcing our long-term strategy on a partner-focused go to market motion. In this fast-changing environment, we can adapt to the customers’ demands faster as we are able to scale with our partners. We are and will continue to be laser-focused on our number one priority – our partners’ profitability. Our partner strategy around ‘Perform and Transform’ remains unchanged, which is to help partners achieve their daily businesses goals while also building on new opportunities. In today’s climate, we are admittedly more focused on helping our partners perform and keep their businesses going, but our long-term strategy has not changed.

What kind of support is being extended to your partners so that they can provide round-the-clock service to their customers?
It has always been Cisco’s mission to offer continuous support to partners so they can provide the best service to their customers and this pandemic couldn’t be a better example of that. From the free offers, to the extensions on certifications to the financing options, Cisco’s support is unwavering for its partners.  My personal commitment is that Cisco is here to support our partners and we will continue to work through these challenging times together as we serve our customers and communities.

Business models are expected to change. What kind of changes is Cisco expecting?
I believe there is going to be a ‘new normal’ that comes out of all of this. No one could have predicted a pandemic of this magnitude that would create such radical shifts in how we conduct business. However, there is no one better positioned than Cisco and our partners to serve this ‘new normal’ and ensure our customers’ success. Cisco is in a unique position to help companies, governments and communities. We make the technologies that power remote productivity and we have the global scale through our partners to effect change.

It is said that ‘challenges always lead to opportunities.’ In this context, how is Cisco transforming the current challenges into opportunities for growth, both for the organisation as well as the partner ecosystem?
I truly believe that our heritage around partnerships will help us get through this and we will emerge even stronger. The technology demands brought by the pandemic play directly to Cisco’s and our partners’ strengths. At Cisco’s Partner Summit last November, the theme of the event was ‘Own Your Edge’ and this is more important today than ever before. Cisco has the best partners in the world that have unique expertise, skills, and capabilities to help our customers and communities adapt to this new reality.



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