At Summit, Cisco Revs Up Its Partner Engine

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala, Author at eWEEK.

Cisco announced new initiatives to help its partner community succeed.

Cisco is holding its annual Partner Summit this week in Miami. At the event, Cisco rolled out several new tools and enhancements to existing products, services, and programs. One of the significant announcements is the overhaul of the Partner Incentive Program, which represents the most substantial change in over a decade.

Partner Simplification a Key Initiative for Cisco

Cisco has simplified and combined current incentives into a single Cisco Partner Incentive. Implemented in a phased approach, the new incentive is expected to roll out in the second half of 2024. It will align with Cisco’s shift toward software and services, providing partners with rebates that encourage and reward business growth, according to Jason W. Gallo, Vice President of Global Partner GTM Acceleration at Cisco.

Cisco relies heavily on its partner community to drive its business. During his keynote, Cisco EVP and Chief Customer and Partner Officer Jeff Sharritts mentioned that 92% of the company’s business currently flows through partners.

While partners are generally positive about Cisco, some partners have stated that the incentive programs can often be confusing due to the multiple facets of the program. Cisco has been committed to streamlining incentives, making it easier for partners to understand how they are compensated, and this week’s announcements are part of the simplification of the partner experience.

One Incentive Plan to Rule Them All

The Partner Incentive will feature three main components:

  • Rebates for one-time sales deals.
  • Incentives for recurring business.
  • Bonuses for delivering customer value, such as driving solution adoption and increasing subscription volumes.

Partners will receive rebates linked to the total value of their sales contracts, activities related to customer engagement, and any growth in yearly subscription revenue. They can also earn extra rewards for investing in their partnership with Cisco and selling its solutions.

PXP Portal Gets a Dose of AI

Furthermore, Cisco is expanding the Partner Experience Platform (PXP), a customized portal for partners. The PXP now includes artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that offer insights to help partners identify growth opportunities.

Cisco updated the platform with a new dashboard that gives partners a complete overview of their financial engagements and investments. A new Growth Finder module provides insights into a company’s customer base and shows opportunities for refreshes, renewals, and new prospects.

Partners Access to Sustainability Tools

Alongside these enhancements, Cisco is introducing a Sustainability Estimator tool, set to launch later this month. The tool will help partners evaluate potential energy savings, emission reductions, cost savings, and the overall environmental benefits that can be achieved by updating their IT infrastructure.

The tool will include a Sustainability Partner Journey, which is a collection of resources designed to assist partners in developing their sustainability initiatives.

“The Sustainability Estimator that we’re making available to our partners has inputs from the International Energy Agency (IEA), so it allows you to precisely pinpoint energy changes and carbon footprint impact as a part of the tool. We use the standards that convert energy consumption changes into carbon footprint,” said Gallo, during a briefing with analysts.

Managed Services: Simplifying Customer Deployments

Managed services providers (MSPs) are also getting a boost from Cisco with the launch of Partner Advanced Support.

This new offering gives MSPs additional options and better support to avoid service disruptions and resolve issues more quickly through expedited access to Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center (TAC). TAC provides 24/7 global access to experts offering assistance and troubleshooting for Cisco products.

Furthermore, Cisco is launching Managed Extended Detection and Response (XDR) and Managed Firewall services, broadening the security solutions available to MSPs. Such services offer organizations an integrated approach to cybersecurity, where monitoring and defense are consolidated across networks, endpoints, and the cloud.

Around-the-clock surveillance eliminates blind spots that isolated security solutions might miss. This is especially valuable for companies that need more resources to house a specialized security team.

“For those looking to expand their perimeter security, these offers will have multi-tenancy and multi-instance scalability. The enriched capabilities will complement our security portfolio with guided service creation, attractive pricing, and multiple incentives to enhance the partners’ profitability in this space,” said Gallo.

Managed service providers have been a growing part of Cisco’s partner base. Infrastructure continues to grow in complexity and is so challenging that many organizations are choosing to offload operations to MSPs. This can lead to faster deployment times and more consistent operations as the MSP takes on the challenge of managing the complexity, enabling the customer to realize faster time to value.

Cisco is implementing new Solution Specializations to support further partners, including Internet of Things (IoT) and small and medium business (SMB) categories. The SMB Specialization has been refreshed to focus on solutions that include Smart SMB, Hybrid SMB, Secure SMB, and Remote SMB.

Cisco plans to introduce two new IoT Solution Specializations in the first half of 2024, addressing both industrial and non-industrial IoT markets. These changes aim to align partner specializations more closely with Cisco’s overall strategy.

Bottom Line: Supporting the Partner Network

The initiatives announced at the summit underscore Cisco’s focus on fostering a supportive and profitable environment for its partners, with a clear emphasis on growth, differentiation, and sustainability. During all the keynotes, every executive, including CEO Chuck Robbins, reiterated the importance of partners in Cisco’s ability to scale and deliver their solutions to customers faster.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.