It's Cisco's contention that as IT sales turn into line-of-business solutions conversations, channel partners should spend less time focused on the speeds-and-feeds discussion and more time solving business problems, fitting together products and services in a way that appeals as much to CEOs, CMOs and CFOs as it does CIOs and IT administrators.
Around that model, Cisco has been urging top partners toward a branding initiative it called Smart Solutions, in which it offers advanced training and channel support for partners that can design, sell and implement customer solutions using Cisco and third-party ecosystem products and services.
The idea is to enable and reward partners that can sell with an architectural mindset, moving beyond the dated resell and break/fix models to attack workplace challenges like BYOD and virtual desktop infrastructure using Cisco as the basis for solutions.
"Our mutual customers are investing in things that address their most important business imperatives," Cisco's Chris Ozor told attendees at UBM Channel's Best of Breed (BoB) Conference in Tampa Tuesday.
Cisco first mentioned the Smart Solutions initiative at Cisco Partner Summit back in April, and over the summer, it identified Smart Solution frameworks in the areas of VDI, BYOD and remote management.
Each Solution combines multiple Cisco practice areas -- such as BYOD drawing on mobility and collaboration -- and also engages solution providers that are certified with both Cisco and ecosystem partners like EMC, Citrix or MobileIron. The first set of Cisco incentives, which are called Solution Partner Accelerators, launched in June and covered VDI, specifically the combination of the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure with Citrix XenDesktop.
"We're more at the beginning of this," said Ozor, who said Cisco will provide support at every key level for a partner, from sales and engineering to marketing and reward programs like Cisco's Solution Incentive Program (SIP).
Jessica Mayo-Pike, business development leader, advanced solutions for IPLogic, a Latham, N.Y.-based Cisco Gold partner, said Cisco's done a good job tailoring its enablement programs to help partners look at bigger-picture problem solving for customers.
"I do think Cisco's been instrumental in helping us transform reps into having business-level discussions with a CTO, or CMO or CSO instead of just talking switches and routers with the IT guys," Mayo-Pike told CRN. "They've divided up a lot of their marketing materials into things that speak to use-case scenarios relevant to a CMO or a CTO, as opposed to just the things the IT guys care about."
PUBLISHED OCT. 16, 2012