Cisco has added a raft of new specialisations and incentives to its partner programme as it continues to shift its business towards subscription and lifecycle selling.
At this year's Cisco Partner Summit, the networking vendor introduced a new "Lifecycle Incentives Programme" to push partners to do more than just resell its products and instead drive software activation and adoption among customers.
The move is the latest development in Cisco's new "Customer Experience" strategy, outlined at last year's Partner Summit, where the vendor will use customer satisfaction as a measure of its success as a business.
The new customer experience focus was emphasised last year as several new faces emerged at Cisco. Salesforce veteran Maria Martinez was put in charge of Cisco's customer experience strategy just months before Partner Summit 2018. Gerri Elliott also joined the vendor as SVP of sales and marketing - a newly created position.
Channel Partner Insight runs through all the key changes to the Cisco Partner Programme announced in Las Vegas:
New partner incentives focused on the lifecycle
Cisco has announced a new Lifecycle Incentives programme which it claims is the first business specialisation focused on customer experience.
It claims the programme will incentivise and reward partners for "lifecycle selling" and help them to "modernise" their services businesses.
The programme will look to reward partners that successfully get their customers to activate and adopt Cisco software. The programme also rewards partners for expanding customer deals to include more Cisco products.
It also includes a new "Use Accelerator bonus" for activating more of the firm's software-based network automation offering - Cisco DNA Center.
Lastly, the Lifecycle Incentives programme includes an initiative called the Solution Starter. This new initiative will "entitle" Cisco customers to work with a partner that is able to offer onboarding and implementation services. In theory, this could mean partners that do not offer these services will lose customers to those that can.
Software development capabilities now count towards Gold status
For the last few years, Cisco has opened an annual competition among its partners to build their own IP with its technology. The winner is awarded with $100,000 in a move to get more of its channel partners to become software developers.
Now, software development capabilities will count towards qualifying to be a Cisco Gold partner under the new DevNet specialisation.
The DevNet specialisation rewards partners with Cisco-qualified engineers that have proven software development capabilities around network automation, DevOps and digital transformation.
"Our customers are asking us different questions. They're asking us to automate their infrastructure and leverage new network capabilities to solve their business problems," said Susie Wee, senior vice president of Cisco DevNet. "This is creating opportunities for Cisco partners with software skills to build unique offers and accelerate business innovation for their customers. The new DevNet Specialization will reward and differentiate the partners who are embracing the new era of networking and can help customers succeed in their digital transformation journeys."
New Cisco support and services commitments for partners
The networking giant also announced three new support offerings to help its channel partners to sell services.
The first is a commitment to provide "solution-level" coverage for all areas of its portfolio. Partners are now entitled to a primary point of contact with Cisco specialists across more than 30 solutions and 250 products. The offer has been extended to include support for software subscriptions as well as collaboration products. Support for Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) and Security will come in Q2.
The firm has also updated its Business Critical Services (BCS) 3.0 offer. This is a packaged analytics and AI tool, available as an "Essential" or an "Advantage" package.
Lastly, Cisco has pledged to provide packaged managed services for its partners to resell. Partners can sell a service managed by Cisco while adding their own value-added services on top. These include a managed detection and response package, Managed Secure SD-WAN and Unified Communications Manager Cloud.
In a statement, Logicalis CEO Mark Rogers said: "We are, today, embracing the shift to software, subscription and lifecycle services, so that tomorrow we can engage with our customers at an even deeper level, and together with Cisco, we can unlock new possibilities for all of us."
WWT's VP of global engineering, Brian Ortbals, said: "We've been extremely excited about this new offer they (Cisco) are bringing to market around Managed Detection and Response via Cisco Managed Services and our ability to tap into that capability without necessarily having to build it on our own allows us to get to market way faster and help our customers get the most out of their investment."
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