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Compugen's Zarek said Klein has been visible at CPEE meetings and other Cisco partner events and understands solution providers. He urged Klein to maintain the focus on Cisco Services and the evolving partner-led initiative, which were the showpiece announcements at Cisco Partner Summit in April.
"I think he has a good sense of the temperature of the channel, and what our priority focuses are," Zarek said. "What the question will be is are we in a mode of moving to more simplification in the channel organization or more depth. Right now it's June, their fiscal year ends in July, so we're not really going to get any perspective until they're well into their new year. But partner-led is critical, what they're doing with services is critical, and I assume they will continue to be supported and receive continuous attention."
Partner-led, into which Cisco has invested some $75 million in new channel resources, ostensibly drives more midmarket and SMB sales of Cisco products and services through solution providers, giving the channel more of a lead opportunity for a segment that accounts for $10 billion of Cisco's overall revenue pie.
Meanwhile, the Cisco Services Partner Program (CSPP) -- unveiled at Partner Summit -- consolidates almost 50 different global services programs into one, reworked umbrella program to better serve Cisco partners as they go after the roughly $200 billion opportunity in more automated, more streamlined services delivery.
Zarek sees both programs as ways in which Cisco is creating more opportunity for partner value-add while aiming to take costs out of the sales cycle.
"The ultimate measure of success will be sales cost reduction, and the ability to cover a larger set of customers at that lower cost," Zarek explained. "You've got to be putting processes together with technology and market intelligence, and it has to work for partners on the value side. In effect what Cisco is doing is funding partner innovation."
Gary Berzack, COO and CTO of eTribeca, a New York-based solution provider, urged Klein to take a long look at Cisco's commercial RFP process as well as continue to streamline the various channel incentive programs and look at ways to foster more partnership between elite Cisco Gold partners and the broader Cisco community.
But clarity and visibility will help Klein most in his early days in the role, Berzack insisted.
"I'd urge Bruce to focus on no more than three big priorities and to do them really well," Berzack said. "Publish your agenda to clients and partners. Publicize it. Make it clear."
Dimension Data's Brown urged similar openness.
"Spend time with the partners -- not just the big partners but a cross-section of partners, especially in the different geographies," he said. "I don't think they're going to be making major changes or that there are any earth-shattering things he needs to do. Bruce is a known entity; many partners already know him. So in their fiscal year 2013, he can clearly continue to articulate and share Cisco's direction and where partners expect to fit into all of that."