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Cisco streamlines partner strategy

A year ago, most headlines carrying Cisco's name talked about a crisis in the company, a decline in profits and a large number of job losses. But the company says it has reinvented itself in the past year and has come out stronger.

Under the tagline "in it to win it", Cisco kicked off the 2012 edition of its global Partner Summit in San Diego this morning, where John Chambers, the company's chairman and CEO, made a number of announcements, including the consolidation of the vendor's 47 services partner programmes worldwide into a single one, the Cisco Services Partner Programme.

Chambers says "Cisco will be easier to do business with". "If you move to this new programme, you will make more money. That's our commitment."

He says that, a year ago, the company "got fat, added too many layers" and that led to frustration over not being able to move fast enough. So Cisco says it has reinvented itself and become leaner. "The minute you give up on thinking you have to be the best, you are already in trouble. We're in it to win it," says the CEO.

He also says he does not believe competition from vendors such as HP and Juniper is tougher than it was last year.

"We accepted competition, competition took advantage of that. Never again," says Chambers. "I wish I was a better person but I'm not. When they come after your profitability, we're going after them," he adds.

According to the chairman and CEO, Cisco stays ahead by, among other things, simplifying the way it does business with partners, while maintaining its focus on a partner-centric business model. "We have to be simpler to do business win. Barriers slow you down. Our task and mission was to simplify ways of doing business. We are just partway through that journey."

Chambers ended his presentation to partners in San Diego asking partners to understand Cisco's commitment to the channel community. "We have to earn your trust and confidence every day."

Senior vice president of worldwide channels Edison Peres also presented at the keynote and echoed the same commitment to partners. "Our loyalty scores are at an all time high but we don't take your business for granted," Peres says to partners. He says the next step is to take Cisco's relationship with its channel "up one level" and create "even greater value".

Among this morning's announcements, Cisco has also launched EASE (Enabling Architecture Sales Excellence), a new training offer that partners with at least one architecture specialisation can take advantage of and through which the company will provide free training to sales people.

Cisco has also created a new Master specialisation -- the Master Cloud Builder Partner, a "one stop shop for competencies around data centre and cloud solutions", one of the ways the company is putting a stronger focus on the cloud.

At the same time, the company has simplified its cloud provider and services programmes by bringing them together into the one Cloud and Managed Services Programme.

In the same morning, vice president of Partner Led at Cisco, Andrew Sage, also introduced a new programme, Partner Plus, specifically designed for partners selling into the mid-market customer space. Minimum revenue for this programme will be country specific, says Sage.


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