Exclusive With Cisco's Lloyd: Take A Look At Us Now


When CRN last met with Rob Lloyd, Cisco executive vice president for worldwide operations and top global sales chief, Cisco was just entering a global restructuring with ambitious plans to remove $1 billion in operating expenses in its fiscal 2012 and a stated goal to make Cisco -- as a sales, marketing and partnering behemoth -- a much more agile organization.

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It was during that July 2011 interview that Lloyd, who joined Cisco in 1994, assured Cisco's global channel that solution providers would see more, not fewer, resources and that Cisco, after a period of tough-love self-examination, had a firm grip on many of the problems spelled out by Chairman and CEO John Chambers in his infamous April 2011 "lost credibility" memo. Nine months later, Cisco is in trim and fighting shape.

Lloyd, who ascended to Cisco's top executive echelon in February 2009, oversees all of Cisco's worldwide sales, operations and channels, and serves on Cisco's Executive Committee. He is often mentioned on the short list of internal candidates said to be potential Chambers successors and is admired by solution providers as a channel advocate -- Lloyd, himself, once ran a successful regional VAR.

[Related: Partner Summit Awaits: 10 Big Questions For Cisco]

In an exclusive discussion with CRN, Lloyd joined Senior Editor Chad Berndtson to set the stage for next week's Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego.

Take me through the major moves Cisco's made over these past nine months since you and I last spoke.

If you take a look at the things we did discuss last July, we were in the process of realigning our resources in my organization in the field to be a lot simpler -- to align much more to a geographic model where there were less requirements to come back to San Jose for approvals, or advice or opinions. Really, we took some pretty bold steps to align most of our resources, and over 90 percent of all my teams now reside in one of these three regional [geographies] we put in place.

The sales teams, the channel organization that supports that geography, the architectural teams that add expertise for customers and partners in that geography, and the marketing and services -- we created these three regional hubs, and that did two things: It allowed people to work much more in the time zones in which they lived and allowed the teams to allocate their resources and prioritize much more on a regional execution plan. That has worked very well.

Pulling people together in those regions was something our partners had asked for. The improvements we've seen are faster cycle time on pricing and getting decisions made much more quickly than previously. There is still room for improvement, and we continue to focus on ways to make our business model faster, but we've turned around on pricing faster, there's a lot less checking for approval someplace else, and we've created key methodology that says, 'Here's who makes the decision.' That's a lot of what we focused on with Cisco for the last nine months. It helps us move a bit faster and appear more agile and be more consistent in the marketplace, which is what our partners asked for.

We've seen increased market share in some of our core markets, the stabilization of gross margins on the product side and an execution we think is heading in the right direction. It's a good first step. We feel like we have a lot more to do to simplify the interaction with our partners and with our customers. So that's job one.

NEXT: Job Two For Cisco: Portfolio Alignment