Partners growth in India is crucial as this is allied to vendors progress, and successful completion of projects. Unlike other countries baring China, our geographic importance is so dispersed that without partners’ assistance, a direct RTM can never be successful in the long run. So the visionary companies always keep on investing and empowering their partners to see them grow big.
Cisco is a partner-driven organization, whose success is defined by its engagement with partners. A staggering 89% of Cisco’s global business comes through the partner ecosystem. “In India we just finished our third quarter and 95% of our business came through our partners. So it would be correct to say that we do almost all our business through channel ecosystems,” Daisy Chittilapilly, Director, Partner Organisation, Cisco India & SAARC. Some of Cisco’s large partners in India like Wipro, TCS, HCL, Infosys and Cognizant are also partners worldwide. On the other end of the spectrum, Cisco also has a number of very small reseller partners. In addition to this, it has service providers like Tata, Airtel, BSNL, Netmagic and Sify offering managed services.
“As we keep creating new marketplace, we make sure that our partners also see us as leaders in those spaces and want to partner in that journey with us.”
India & SAARC
Cisco also jointly devices go-to market strategies for India with technology partners like Intel, SAP, Microsoft and Apple. Additionally, Cisco has new partners in the IoT space like Honeywell and Rockwell andspecific niche solutions partners like Covacsis.
Role of Partners moving forward
Over the past few quarters, Cisco has significantly increased its channel efforts to augment partner capabilities by providing leading practices, tools, and knowledge transfer, which in turn enables them to have more repeatable, successful, and profitable customer engagements.
Daisy remarked, “Channel Partnerships are more important now than ever. There’s a challenge and opportunity in front of us. We’re going to have to change the way we do things – the way we work, the types of customers we serve, the way we solve their problems. And if we do it right and if we do it together, the opportunity for all of us is bigger than anything that’s come before. We believe in empowering our partners to move up the value chain and become a solutions provider in their own right.”
Latest trends in Enterprise Mobility
Enterprise Mobility is not a new idea anymore and has now been widely accepted. Today, enterprise mobility is a necessity because employees want a similar experience to what they are used to in their personal life when they come into work. Cisco believes, the space where enterprises have started to think and act on is essentially on security. Daisy added, “How do we enable enterprise mobility in applications, experience and awareness so that you get the right data to the right person? There is a focus on cloud, most frequently used applications, and user experience, whether that is your employee, supplier or consumer.”
Channel Strategy in Changing Business Scenario
Cisco owes its success to its partners to stay on top of the technology curve and thought leadership. It provides thought leadership in newer markets that it enters into and continues to provide and establish that leadership with partners. We keep revising this strategy as we keep exploring newer spaces.” Daisy continued, “As we keep creating new marketplace, we make sure that our partners also see us as leaders in those spaces and want to partner in their journey with us. We try to keep them inquisitive and invested in the newer spaces we are going after.”
Additionally, Cisco constantly focuses on the basics – partner profitability and sustainability. However big or small the partner or partnership, these are the fundamentals by which Cisco measures the success of the partnership. She added, “We have technology partners for whom market access is really important and complimenting their story with ours is important for us.”
Cisco is constantly refining its channel programs to help on-board different kind of partners and to enable the newer partners to go after what is important for them. Cisco keeps revisiting the strategies every 12 to 24 months.
Choosing the right Channel Program
Essentially, Cisco has a process of studying and identifying all the potential business in the market. Deciding upon how Cisco’s business in the market is likely to be, it creates a plan for partners which includes types of partner, number of partners by geographic spread and lots of other elements. Cisco then does a partner map and brings out a partner program for each type of partners. The programs are similar to the ones traditionally used and are very familiar software like CST, CIT etc. Cisco also has a reference program like CRP for influencer and technology partners.
Daisy said, “For different partner type we have other kind of program and for the same partner type we have customization of programs, so that everybody is identifiable. Everybody finds a program that is most suited to their requirements.”
Engaging and Enabling the Partners
Across Cisco’s primary portfolio, it has 4 architectures – Enterprise Networking, Collaboration, Datacenter and Security. All 4 of them have gone through massive technology launches. Cisco has recently announced new offering, Digital architecture network called DNA which is a big opportunity for its partners.
“In our partner space, we move with our partners much more than we move with our customers. So in our partner space, we have the partner enabled activities and incentives programs related to DNA. That’s one thing we are doing,” remarked Daisy.
Opportunities in Smart Cities and Digitization
Cisco is partnering with IoT companies who have previously worked in the space like Honeywell, L&T and so on. India is a new market for IT adoption and there are new set of partners that are also involved, who are turnkey infrastructure integrators. Cisco’s partnership with them has resulted in early wins for Cisco like the Mobile surveillance, Lucknow high court deal, Jaipur, and AP Fibernet. On the wins, Daisy stated, “These wins are due to Cisco’s partnership with new age partners like Honeywell, L&T, Deloitte.”
Partners in Numbers
Cisco currently has 2500 plus partners, and it plans to grow organically. Cisco constantly looks at capacity and if there’s a capacity issue observed in the market then it moves quickly to fix it. “We also track if any of our partners are getting lost or dormant in the process, then we actively look at it as well as we don’t want anyone from the 2500 to go missing,” added Daisy.
Summing up, Daisy gave Cisco’s message for its partner ecosystem, “There’s only one message that we keep telling our partners – stay close to us. We are invested in their success and they are critical to ours.”