From an interaction with B Raghavendran, Managing Director, Partner Organization, Cisco India and SAARC about Cisco’s partner strategies for the SMB market.
At the Cisco India Summit 2019, Cisco leaders emphasised how leveraging the Power of Alliances has allowed it to grow and simultaneously assist its partner organizations in their growth. Cisco’s holistic approach includes providing its partners the global exposure that benefits the organizations in building its market identity, and enhacing their internal efficiency, portfolio and resources through comprehensive training programs.
“Experience for the customers – that is where Cisco’s relevance comes in.”
Cisco India and SAARC
Digital Transformation and Cisco
There is a lot of transformation that is taking place. There are market and technology transitions that are happening. Digitization is progressing and Cisco is progressing with it –evolving from products to software and occupying this whole programmability space. The way Cisco has opened up its software, today it has software APIs, right from Security and Datacenters, to Enterprise Networking and Collaboration Platform. This is what additionally gives Cisco’s partners the ability to build solutions and applications on top of it. And by doing so, taking from the power of the underlying software infrastructure that Cisco has developed and delivering value to their customers in turn. It is with a completely different dynamics that Cisco is able to differentiate them from the pack.
Cisco Prioritizing Customer Experience
From merely going about selling the technology, Cisco is shifting its partner approach to addressing the question of settling the technology with the life cycle of the technology, so as to ensure that the customer is not just using the technologies that are sold to them but also expanding upon it while simultaneously delivering value from it. The priority now for Cisco, is to create the best customer experience possible.
This is what helps the partners to differentiate. Cisco’s aim is to help the partners in creating that differentiation and leveraging it to increase relevance. So that in the long run, they will be able to drive the conversation towards technology differentiation and value based selling. This in turn helps Cisco in terms of acquiring specialized talent by virtue of collaborating with its partner organizations.
The transition from Transactional Selling to Value Selling, initiates a process of enablement that upskills the employees. This leads to a holistic growth of the organization. This comes in handy for mid-size partners, who unlike their large-sized counterparts cannot afford to engage in a business consulting exercise on a regular basis. By assisting them through the process of upskilling, Cisco is making an investment that adds to its partners’ capabilities and resources. By sharing with them the information, tools and the processes that are the crucial aspects of the enablement framework, Cisco provides the partner organizations the right kind of knowledge that they need to upskill their employees.
Cisco’s SMB Strategies
By taking up smaller partners in the SMB playing field, Cisco is working on its SMB strategies through its partner organizations. Cisco’s end game is to ensure that its partners’ customers get a similar customer experience as they would get if they were directly engaging with Cisco.
One of the ways this is being done is by encouraging the SMB partners to invest in a head count that will then be put within Cisco. These ‘trainees’ so to say, would be working within Cisco for a period of one year during which they would be trained with and by the Cisco employees in accordance with the enablement program. At the end of the stipulated period, the trainees would be transferred back into the partner organization they hailed form and with them, the business that they have done while they were with Cisco, would go back to their respective partner organization. After a yearlong training with Cisco, when the employee walks out, s/he will have a nuanced understanding of Cisco’s portfolio and how it can be efficiently utilized. This on-the-job experience for the partners’ employees, is the investment that Cisco is making for the cause of its SMB strategies.
Cisco does not stop at investing in programmability or new buying centres for a holistic Transformation. Instead it walks the extra mile and works on the performed space. And this is what has allowed Cisco to lead the market with its partner-centric SMB approach.