Simpler is better: Cisco pares programs

Wendy Bahr, senior vice president of Cisco's Global Partner Organization

Wendy Bahr, senior vice president of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization

Less is more, Cisco said at its annual Partner Summit in Dallas last week, announcing the results of some of its efforts to make its partner program easier for partners to manage. The company announced significant reductions in numbers of discrete programs and systems, including reducing its number of specializations from 27 to 11, including dropping from 10 possible Express specializations to one.

Under the revised program introduced by global channel chief Wendy Bahr, Express will continue to exist, but will now serve as an introductory level, covering the basics of Cisco’s porftolio for new partners. Moving up the stack, the number of Advanced specializations drops from 13 to five. The company will, however, add one tier to its Masters level specializations, planning to introduce in March a specialization that will cover software, security, analytics and automation, bringing its software push much more formally into its partner program.

“I know many of you are experts at networks today, but networks moving forward require new and different skills,” Bahr told partners, outlining that partners with the new Maters will get benefits including “a higher activation bonus, access to VIP kickers, and more.”

Rounding out the push on making the program simpler to work with, the company has consolidated deal registration systems significantly, going from 15 programs down to two.

That’s not to say there’s nothing new for Cisco partners to learn or benefit from. The company continues moving its channel program towards software, introducing programs that focus on recurring revenues and customer usage of their software products.

VIP Activation Bonuses take over what Cisco first tried to do under the DNA Vouchers banner, but brings the bonus of activating and getting customers up and running on Cisco software within the familiar and all-encompassing VIP program.

“By putting the bonus in VIP, you can start thinking about activation at the beginning of the sale,” Bahr said, adding that partners can get “up to 17 per cent” in additional margin by activating three pieces of Cisco software.

VIP Activation covers Cisco’s One digital networking software suite , Identity Services Engine,and Stealthwatch security software.

Also under VIP, the company introduced VIP Annuity, adding incentives around selling, expanding, and renewing SaaS deals around its enterprise networking, data centre, security, and collaboration offerings.

“It’s simpler, it’s across all architectures, and it supports your transition to performance-based metrics,” Bahr said.

Finally, the company introduced a new program — the Migration Incentive Program — designed to help customers move from either competitive gear or from older-generation Cisco infrastructure, into the latest generations of Cisco gear that include support for all the software and related technology on which Cisco is focused. MIP provides incremental rebates to partners on Cisco hardware, software, and services is such situations, and according to Bahr, is a big bet for the company.

“You know when we put ‘IP’ on the end fo a program, we’re dead serious about,” quipped Bahr.