November 2, 2022
Cisco’s Kristyn Hogan
“We are super excited to add contact center to our agency offer, which is what the partners have been begging for,” Kristyn Hogan said
Hogan, who leads Cisco’s global collaboration partner sales, said the move reflects a larger expansion of Cisco’s go-to-market efforts around contact center. In addition, any collaboration-certified partner can now sell contact center from Cisco.
Cisco is hosting partners at their annual summit Las Vegas this week.
Cisco in the summer of 2021 officially kicked off its efforts in the agent/TSD channel by partnering with ScanSource-owned Intelisys.
ScanSource resellers were already delivering Cisco hardware; the Intelisys partnership let agents sell Webex in their natural model. In that model the vendor, rather than the partner, bills the customer and provides the managed services.
Intelisys/ScanSource’s John DeLozier
“We have a longstanding relationship with Cisco, which began in the hardware business. We are thrilled Cisco opened up the agency route to market last year and, together, we are providing great new opportunities for our partners,” said John DeLozier, president of Intelisys, a ScanSource company.
Cisco expanded its TSD channel in early 2022 by partnering with Telarus. That partnership included a regional channel manager team and internal engineering resources. However, partners could only sell the unified communications side of Webex.
But that’s changing now.
Telarus’ Samantha Nelson
“Companies are leveraging customer experience (CX) as a competitive advantage by meeting customers where they are,” said Samantha Nelson, vice president of contact center for Telarus. “As a result, our partners and customers are having more conversations about incorporating a digital-first approach. Cisco’s contact center offering will allow businesses to leverage experience as a basis of differentiation, for internal employees and external customers.”
Hogan said contact center has contributed immensely to the recent growth of its TSD partners. UCaaS propelled agents through COVID-19 as the pandemic forced businesses into the cloud. But now CCaaS has allowed agents to demonstrate the business value they can provide to customers.
“For the past six quarters, contact center has been leading the charge, growing off the chart, so they’ve been begging for it,” she said.
DeLozier said partners are looking at a total addressable market of $25 billion for unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS). That stems in major part from the widespread move to hybrid work.
We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.
“While the need for these technologies was accelerated by the pandemic, end users now need to create longer-term business strategies. Ensuring partners can deliver the next generation of cloud solutions – be it CCaaS, UCaaS, security – to their end users is essential to their continued growth,” DeLozier told Channel Futures. “We are committed to helping our partners meet their end users where they are. Expanding our Cisco portfolio to include their cloud solutions will be a key strategy in enabling us to do that.”
Moreover, Cisco will allow any certified collaboration partner to …
… sell Webex Contact Center. That change, plus the agent expansion, will drastically increase the number of partners selling contact center.
Previously, only a select number of providers could have sold contact center.
“Historically, if you think back to the big on-premises deployments of contact center, they were all very bespoke,” Hogan told Channel Futures.
But with Cisco making contact center available in the cloud and cutting down on complexity, the company no longer needed to severely limit the number partners that sell the offering, Hogan said.
“It’s super exciting, having gone from roughly 300 partners who could sell contact center for Cisco globally to over 3,000,” Hogan said.
Agent Model Adoption
Hogan told Channel Futures earlier this year that announcing TSD partnerships pleased not just the agent community, but also the reseller community. Many VARs chose to sell Webex UCaaS in the agent model.
“I think it was a little bit unexpected — the degree of success we would see with the existing VAR community. It wasn’t share-shift. It wasn’t our partner saying, ‘Hey, I’d like to transact this deal that I would have brought to Cisco regardless down this new route,’ but rather, truly net-new customers that these partners were bringing to Cisco saying, ‘Because of this new model, it now makes financial sense for us and makes sense for the sake of simplicity, to go transact with Cisco in this new way,’” Hogan said earlier this year.
For example, many Meraki partners saw it as an opportunity to do more with collaboration without making the painfully large investment a reseller must make to build a new practice.
“There’s a handful of really fantastic, strong Meraki partners who play in that swim lane, don’t really cross over into the collaboration space, and don’t really have an interest to go build out those teams and that expertise,” she said.
A Growing Relationship
On the other hand, many agents have struck paydirt by selling other CCaaS vendors. Those include Five9, Talkdesk, Nice InContact and Genesys. But now the expanded TSD partnership gives Cisco the opportunity to sell with, rather than against, those partners.
Moreover, today’s contact center announcement likely precedes other products Cisco will make available to the agent channel. Hogan in the past has described Cisco’s agent efforts as “walk, crawl, run.”
But for now, the initial results of the agent model appear to be justifying further investment. Hogan said Cisco is seeing triple digit quarter-over-quarter pipeline growth with its agent Webex model.
“I’m looking forward to us continuing to expand the broader Cisco portfolio into that route to market,” she said. “We’re proving it out with collaboration, and the results have been great.”
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