Cisco Partner Summit: Cisco Adds TIP To Partner Incentive Programs

Cisco on Tuesday moved to expand its portfolio of services offerings for partners, emphasizing a move away from break-fix to more professional services models, and addressing issues that Cisco often doesn't do enough to bring partners in on Cisco-led deals early enough, or follow through on certain margin incentives in several of its programs.

That was the message from Edison Peres, Cisco senior vice president of worldwide channels, go-to-market, and Keith Goodwin, Cisco senior vice president of worldwide channels, in a discussion of services programs at the Cisco Partner Summit in San Francisco Tuesday.

"One of the inhibitors to your investing more in high level services practices is a perceived competition from Cisco," Goodwin said to a packed audience of Cisco VARs and several thousand more watching via the Web. "We're going to take that one on and come back to you and provide a clearly articulated strategy with how we will work together to increase the amount of services we deliver to customers."

The programs, said Peres, address a need for earlier engagement between Cisco and partners and also will help partners better collaborate with each other. Cisco sees services partnerships as "1 plus 1 equals 3," he said, suggesting that neither Cisco alone or partners alone benefit as much from a services revenue standpoint than they do working together.

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One of the big changes, Peres and Goodwin explained, was a shift in strategy for how Cisco deals with what it calls "transformational accounts" -- large, hugely complex global customers that need special attention, lots of technology, and are early adopters of next-wave architecture.

Program-wise, Cisco will debut a new services specialization through which partners can invest and become services experts, as well as enjoy "neutralized" compensation with Cisco's own sales team. Partners who obtain the services specialization will be given priority access to the 500 transformational accounts.

Peres and Goodwin also said they would be better articulating requirements for pre-chasm and post-chasm services as part of Services for Success, a new umbrella strategy for services opportunities.

Next: VAR Incentive Program Additions

Cisco also announced additions to its VAR incentive programs, including the introduction of Cisco's Teaming Incentive Program (TIP), which joins VIP (Value Incentive Program), OIP (Opportunity Incentive Program) and SIP (Solution Incentive Program) as Cisco channel programs that offer VARs extra points of margin for the deals they bring to Cisco's attention and the types of deals they are.

Specifically, TIP will be for partners whom Cisco has qualified early in the sales process on a deal, and through it, VARs can earn 5 extra points of margin on that deal. VARs will still earn the points even if the deal enters the Cisco Dealer Service Agreement (DSA) phase.

"The value of the partner isn't being promoted because they're coming too late in the conversation," Peres said. "Those partners who were brought in for the early engagement, we're going to acknowledge the investments they've made."

Similarly, five points of margin will be maintained for partners under OIP, even if OIP deals -- which occur when a partner secures new business and brings it to Cisco's attention -- reach DSA, too.

"OIP doesn't always get protected in DSA," Peres acknowledged.

Finally, said Goodwin and Peres, Cisco will launch the Global Partner Network, a portal and support program through which VARs that work internationally or collaborate with partners in other countries will see transaction hassles minimized. According to Peres, Cisco will work with partners at a multi-national level to provide consistent account steps around the world and also neutralize compensation for its own international salespeople so VARs don't lose out on deals or money.