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Rob Lloyd, Cisco's executive vice president, worldwide operations, said the sweeping changes were both strategic and structural. Strategically, Cisco moved away from talk of "30 to 50 adjacencies" and retrenched to focus on five key priorities: its core networking businesses, collaboration, data center (including virtualization and cloud computing), video and architectures. Structurally, Cisco reorganized its nine global sales theaters into three regions, with a single executive sitting atop each geography. Americas' leader is Chuck Robbins, senior vice president, The Americas.
"We took some pretty bold steps to align most of our resources," Lloyd told CRN in an exclusive interview this month. "We created three regional hubs, which did two things: It allowed people to work much more in the time zones across where they lived, and also allowed these teams to allocate their resources and prioritize much more on what might be called a regional execution plan. That has worked very well."
Cisco also reorganized its engineering units, streamlining the number of technology-based engineering groups and consolidating power with top executives in several units, including video, security and data center.
Its other major structural change was also internal, Lloyd said. Cisco disbanded the past decade's complex system of councils and boards and now convenes three councils, one focusing on enterprise, one on service provider and one on emerging business.
"The difference from the past is that instead of a loose coalition of councils and boards, we have a very tight operating model," Lloyd said. "We know that market share matters. We know that growth and competitive intensity matters. We have a much-simplified model."
The net effect of these moves, Lloyd said, is a Cisco that spends less time deliberating in internal councils, has more executives empowered to say "yes" and approve deals and partner requests without having to request input from headquarters, and has a clearer strategy for its various technology groups, with product sets organized more logically.
Through it all, Cisco also delivered new channel resources, including the launch of its Cloud Partner Program and a new strategy called partner-led that's seen $75 million in new investment from Cisco and is designed to drive more SMB and midmarket sales through Cisco solution providers. Those customers represent at least $7 billion of Cisco's overall revenue.
Partners said many of the steps described by Lloyd have made their Cisco interactions smoother and made the process of making, registering and seeing returns from Cisco deals far less tangled.
"There were so many layers it just all seemed to take longer, from the responsiveness of the people to the systems," Long View's MacDonald said. "Now, you don't have to go as high in the organization to get approval."
"I see a combination of things happening at the same time," said Frank Scanga, executive vice president of business development at Axispoint, a New York-based Cisco Silver partner. "I see the continued enhancement of Cisco tools that we use for businesses, including the portals for how we track VIP [Value Incentive Program] dollars, how we register deals, SmartNet renewals and the simplicity of getting that well-organized. They've done a good job consolidating those -- before, there were multiple systems and places to enter orders, and no one likes to work in a chaotic manner. That's simplicity, and when you have that, you have less frustration and more profitability for the partners."
Axispoint's Cisco business grew 35 percent year-over-year, Scanga said. Its major Cisco-centric priorities include business video and collaboration, business process mapping, and Quad, Cisco's converged UC suite, social networking platform and cloud software product. Axispoint is fairly unique among solution providers in that it also has a thriving custom app development business that becomes particularly relevant in flexible UC architectures.
"Something like Quad really helps bring the two sides of our house together as a business -- we get to a unified practice which, for us, is nirvana," Scanga said.
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