Cisco Pumping $75 Million Into SMB Partner Led StrategyCisco Pumping $75 Million Into SMB Partner Led Strategy
Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers yesterday attacked rival Juniper Networks. Now, Cisco is following up with a $75 million investment to help drive SMB Partner Led sales, according to Andrew Sage, Cisco's VP of Partner Led.
September 14, 2011
Andrew SageCisco Systems CEO John Chambers yesterday attacked rival Juniper Networks. Now, Cisco is following up with a $75 million investment to help drive SMB Partner Led sales, according to Andrew Sage, Cisco’s VP of Partner Led. It’s all part of the “Next Cisco” strategy. Has the sleeping giant truly awoken? Here’s the update.
During an analyst meeting yesterday, Chambers said Juniper is “the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen them.” The comments arrive only a few weeks after Cisco cut 6,500 jobs and promised to refocus on five core priorities. A growing number of Wall Street analysts think Cisco has bottomed out, and may now potentially rebound — at least a bit.
A Big SMB Partner Bet
So what’s next? How about $75 million to help channel partners pursue small and midsize business customers? Those market development funds and related programs are expected to kick off just after the start of the new year (January 2012), according to Sage.
During a media briefing today — over Cisco’s WebEx, of course — Sage described the Partner Led strategy. It’s essentially an SMB-centric effort to “provide the right mix of high-touch and scalability to accelerate growth.” Eighty percent of Cisco’s business goes through partners, Sage noted. But Partner Led will focus on the SMB sector where “partners serving small and midsize customers play a leading role in the selling process.” Sage also emphasized — several times — that Cisco is not taking its enterprise business direct.
In the mid-market, where roughly 1,000 channel partners engage heavily with Cisco, Partner Led initiatives will involve:
Architectures, managed services and cloud services.
High demand for services and integration.
A focus on programs to support collaborative selling.
In the smaller business segment, Cisco will emphasize:
Managed and cloud services.
Simplicity, speed and scale.
A focus on demand generation and innovative geographic coverage.
The Partner Led Effort
So what’s new in Partner Led? Sage said the effort will include:
Market Development Funds (MDF) that offer targeted benefits. The benefits will begin to reward partners sometime in early 2012, he predicted.
Unique sales programs that involve Road Warriors (Cisco employees who meet regularly with partners) and Fast Track 2 (a program that simplifies partner transactions with Cisco).
The Technology Solutions Network, to scale partner sales and support coverage through virtual resources.
Partner 360 PRM, which will create “scalable infrastructure capabilities.”
The VAR Guy’s key question: Will Cisco’s $75 million investment really reach partners or is it tied to Cisco back-end system upgrades? Sage vowed that the majority of the figure would truly go to partner enablement and support within the MDF program.
The Bottom Line
No doubt, Cisco sounds focused and the company is back in attack mode. But is the Next Cisco business strategy really working — or is it too soon to say? We’ll all gain new clues when Cisco announces quarterly results. EarningsWhispers.com expects those results to surface on Nov. 10, 2011.
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