Tech Data Seeks To Help Partners Navigate Cisco Channel Program Complexity8:06 PM EST Tue. Jun. 11, 2013
Channel partners familiar with the Cisco channel program find themselves navigating not only a broad category of products but also a virtual alphabet soup of certifications, specializations and similar requirements necessary for access to products, discounts, rebates and other profitability tools. However, one channel partner has recently been awarded for helping clear up some of Cisco's channel complexities.
Many partners wish their fellow partners good luck in finding supporting information on the Cisco website, which takes an all-inclusive approach to search queries and often delivers results in hundreds, if not thousands, of hits.
"When I go to the Cisco website, it's intimidating," said Jasmine Avilez, procurement manager at Alphaserve Technologies, a New York City-based integrator. "I get this huge deluge of information that I have to sort through."
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To make matters even more challenging, Cisco's layoffs of recent years reduced the number of channel support personnel, thereby making it even more difficult to get needed information on a timely basis.
In response, Tech Data launched its "Momentum" tool. Though the initial roll-out occurred two years ago, the success of its partner dashboard helped to win it a channel enablement award for the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor at last week's Cisco Partner Summit in Boston.
Momentum provides a computer interface that covers the key Cisco architectures of Borderless Networks, Collaboration, Data Center and Small Business. Partners can not only track their status within these four architectures but also see how certifications, specializations and other program components can be used to upgrade their status and ultimately increase their profitability. The tool is intended to be used in conjunction with Tech Data's partner account managers who can offer further assistance on how to navigate the Cisco program.
"We decode Cisco for them and enable profitable growth for our partner base," said Angie Beltz, vice president of marketing for the Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data. "Some of the partners have an existing Cisco practice that they want to expand, and others are net new partners to Cisco. Regardless of which group they belong to, based on all the changes in expansion that Cisco has made in their architectures and product solutions, it is necessary to have some guidance about how to be successful."
NEXT: Money Left On The Table
In addition to achieving the needed certifications and specializations, failure to fully capitalize on Cisco's incentive programs, such as the Opportunity Incentive Program (OIP) and the Value Incentive Program (VIP), can cause partners to leave money on the table.
"We show the partner how to leverage these types of programs, rebates, certifications, and specializations," Tech Data's Beltz said. "It's an easy, conversational tool that provides the partner with a visually appealing way to plan their strategy and understand the expectations."
In addition to the tool, partners work with the Cisco-dedicated account managers to further refine their strategies.
"Sometimes, we find that partners have done a good job with products and technical certification and training, but it stops there," she added. "So we help them with the sales training aspect, too. The overall objective is to shorten the cycle of time to profitability."
Growth objectives are also established so that progress can be quantified.
"It's about getting the answers upfront so we can address the larger architectural and business practice questions downrange," said Stephen Tessitore, Tech Data's partner enablement marketing manager. "We customize their personal account plan and come to an agreement with the partner on how they will expand their business."
Since the program was instituted two years ago, Tech Data and its partners have executed roughly 2,000 account plans, according to Tech Data.
"It costs us nothing to use this," added Avilez of Alphaserve Technologies. "It gives us a clear road map for how to get to where we want to be, what steps need to be taken and what roles need to be filled. It makes our life a lot easier."
The tool also gets high marks from John Spiridigliozzi, COO of Infinit Technology Solutions, a DeWitt, N.Y.-based integrator.
"We use it for planning purposes relative to engineers and time, as well as with staffing needs necessary to extend our position into the data center," he said. "The assistance helps us to better utilize our resources, which saves money. And then leveraging the appropriate certifications and specializations helps us to generate money."
PUBLISHED JUNE 11, 2013