The Digital Shift: Partner Evolution and Future of IT


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Cisco has always been incredibly enthusiastic about the role of the partner and there is no disputing the unbelievable success we've had together.  As a matter of fact, today over 85% of the business we do in the marketplace is done through our partner ecosystem. There's no other company in the industry like that.

We are on a shared journey, and the digital shift and transition to a subscription-based and as-a-service business model is one that we're going to be driving together. Still, from time to time I hear concerns that partners will no longer have a role in the digital economy. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the past decade has ushered in entirely new ways of doing business, and our industry has been reshaped and reinvented in almost every respect. But now more than ever, change has created new complexities and uncertainties for customers. That, in turn, has led to a larger and more critical role for partners.

From public, private and hybrid cloud to managed services and more, IT environments are more complicated than ever. At the same time digitization has made technology buyers more educated and empowered than ever. A new breed of technology buyer has emerged, leading to the need for new approaches to the purchasing process.

Today's buyers want to pay as they go and try things out – before they commit. They have higher expectations for their technology investments, and they want ROI and outcomes. In addition, line-of-business leaders are now playing a much more active role in the decisions about the tools they're using, and about how they bring those tools into their respective organizations.

These are monumental changes, and they require a monumental shift in strategy – one that is focused on the customer journey and on driving loyalty after the initial point of sale. To succeed as this shift unfolds, partners are being asked to make sense of today's complex IT mash-up for their customers. They're being asked to become service integration and product adoption experts. And they're feeling the pressure to continuously deliver value and empower their customers to hit their outcomes and improve their brands in the marketplace.

Getting it right and making it all come together is no easy task. It requires time spent listening to the customer, understanding their preferred outcomes and matching those outcomes to the right solutions. Ultimately, it means ensuring that customers are effectively adopting and using their technology solutions to the fullest potential. The reward for partners? As outcomes are met, trust will be built and new opportunities will unfold, almost effortlessly.

The Partner Transformation Journey

With value realization and adoption representing the future of IT, it's critical that we evolve our businesses to align with the massive transformation that is taking hold. At Cisco, we're evolving and innovating across our entire organization, and because partners are so central to our business, we want to share what we've learned about the changing IT landscape with you. That's why we created our SuccessHub resource center, which offers innovative partner-focused content, playbooks and processes built around adoption, value exchange and customer success. We've also been holding adoption and lifecycle management workshops to guide partners to empower customers to exceed their expectations for the Cisco technology investments they've made.

Last but not least, our data-driven platforms, programs and tools, such as Cisco Impact, Lifecycle Advantage and AutoQuote, are designed to nurture adoption and customer success every step of the way throughout the customer journey. With these offerings, the ultimate goal is to enable customers to achieve their stated business outcomes—whether it's to improve customer service, make supply teams more efficient or something entirely unique to their company.

A Digital Wake-Up Call

While change can create uncertainty and even chaos, the truth is that the digital economy has served as a wake-up call for all of us. Gone are the days when the customer relationship ended when a product was shipped out the door. In fact, today, that's when the customer journey begins. And it's where partners can really begin to show their value, too.

There's no question that as our industry continues to evolve, the importance of the partner will increase exponentially. All of us at Cisco stand ready to support you and work with you in partnership as the transformation unfolds.

Scott Brown is Senior Vice President - Global Virtual Sales & Customer Success at Cisco

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