Expect a “more aggressive” Cisco at Partner Summit

Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco’s worldwide partner group

Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco’s worldwide partner group

With last month’s Partner Velocity event in Las Vegas now firmly in the rearview mirror, the next major event on Cisco Systems’ channel event schedule is the big one – its annual Partner Summit will be held in mid-April in San Diego.

While at Partner Summit, I had the chance (along with some of my fine peers in the North American channel media/blogger community) to sit down with the company’s channel leadership, namely worldwide channel chief Edison Peres and his boss Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of the worldwide partner group, and the topic of what to expect from Partner Summit.

Goodwin set up expectations succinctly: “Expect a little more aggressive tone, we’re playing with the idea of being on the offensive,” he said.

That aggressive tone may serve as a reset after a year of some major changes at Cisco that saw it refocus on its five key priorities and shed previously high-profile businesses that didn’t fit in those areas. Goodwin hinted that common Partner Summit themes (competing, leading through market transitions) will be on display, just turned up a notch or two.

“We’re going to be more aggressive in our intent to do that, to go out and win, whether it’s a deal, a market, or leading a market transition,” Goodwin said, adding the tone of the event will be “that winning focus.”

While the executives were initially reticent to go too deep on what exactly to expect in San Diego (nobody wants to pre-announce their biggest event of the year by nearly two months), both Goodwin and Peres did provide some substantial hints as to what partners will see at the event.

  • Last year, the company used Partner Summit in New Orleans to announce its collaborative professional services and cloud channel programs. Peres suggested that this year will see “the next step” in its partner-led world around collaborative services. In fact, the event will serve as the debut for a number of “next steps” in its recent partner developments.
  • Goodwin suggested the company will shine a focus on partners “return on partnership” with Cisco, specifically highlighting what the company is doing to “to earn their loyalty and investment every day,” and why a partner’s investment in Cisco “will drive a higher return than investing in alternatives.”
  • Since taking over the worldwide channel chief role, Peres said he’s been focusing on making Cisco simpler to partner with. Honestly, no vendor is ever going to say their goal is to make their partners’ lives more of a headache, but it sounds like Peres plans to back up the talk with some proof points around its efforts to streamline its partner programs.
  • Finally, Goodwin said he’ll spend some time on the company’s “ecosystem” partners – adding new technology, ISV and vertical relationships that it will tie in with its network of solution providers. Expect to see an update from Goodwin both on where Cisco has been in developing that ecosystem, and where it intends to go next.