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Cisco is making across-the-board updates to most of its major partner incentive programs, including juicier rebates for its long-running Value Incentive Program (VIP) and sweeteners for several other programs.
The changes are part of an overall increase in Cisco's spending on incentive programs in its fiscal 2012 over its fiscal 2011 -- a move that squashes rumors Cisco would trim its incentive payouts this year as part of its ongoing corporate restructuring.
Ricardo Moreno, senior director, Strategy, Planning & Programs, Worldwide Channels at Cisco, declined to say how much Cisco was upping its investment in the programs, but confirmed in an interview with CRN Monday that the overall number is higher than last year.
Most of the changes center on VIP, the nine-year old incentive program that rewards partners based on their Cisco-centric technology practices, and which Cisco refreshes twice a year. Version 18 of VIP is now in effect.
Among the major changes are that Cisco's existing partner development funds (PDF) program -- which offers incentive payments for partners on certain types of deals to small business or midmarket customers -- has been renamed VIP Express.
Cisco partners participating in VIP Express will still receive quarterly payments, as they did under PDF, but Cisco sought to align the PDF program with the VIP program and streamline the process for participating, according to Moreno. The VIP Express piece is primarily for Cisco small business specialist, select and premier partners, he explained.
Some Cisco Gold level partners will also see fatter VIP payments going forward. Cisco Gold partners that participate in Cisco's Data Center architecture track -- previously known as the Virtualization track -- can temporarily bag a 2 percent rebate instead of a 1 percent rebate.
That won't last forever, said Moreno, but Cisco wanted to test out rewarding partners that by nature of the technology involved, have to invest more money to have their competencies recognized by Cisco.
"Partners have to make extra investment in that area," Moreno said. "We want to make it a little richer for them."
Other changes to VIP include the introduction of a WebEx subtrack in Cisco's Collaboration track, under which Cisco will qualify more partners to receive VIP rebates for selling WebEx. Specifically, Cisco partners that have either the Collaboration Architecture Specialization or Cisco's Telepresence Video Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) designation can now more easily access those incentives, whereas before, only partners with Advanced or Master Unified Commuinications designations would qualify, Moreno said.
"WebEx is a key part of the architecture and becoming more and more pervasive in what we do," Moreno said. "It's not only a piece of the U.C. element we had before."
A last booster specific to VIP is that Cisco partners that were invited into the Cisco Telepresence Video ATP program prior to the end of VIP 17 -- June 30, 2011 -- but did not finish the requirements for the ATP in time will be able to receive payment on eligible VIP 17 bookings in the VIP 18 period if they meet VIP 18 qualifications during the VIP 18 period.
"If they don't have the specialization or the ATP, they can't earn their rebates," Moreno said. "So we're giving them all the way to the end of VIP 18 to do it."
VIP 18 runs through Jan. 28, 2012.