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Cisco Partner Summit Preview: ‘What A Channel-First Model Looks Like For Software’

Ahead of Cisco's Partner Summit, CRN speaks with Nirav Sheth (pictured left) and Vinay Nichani to talk software sales, the role of partners in Cisco's software and services pivot, and how the company is helping partners sell the entire life cycle.

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How has Cisco been evolving its sales motion to align better with how the industry wants to consume IT?

Nichani: We are driving a big shift in our business to software and the recurring model—that's not a secret. We are rapidly evolving our sales motion to align to that, and it’s very customer-driven. Every customer is thinking through how to do this digital journey. It's about greater flexibility and agility in how they consume technology and, also, customer environments are increasingly app-centric. We're now in a place where 46 percent of consumers are more loyal to an app instead of a brand [according to AppDynamics]. Customers are trying to navigate across applications, 5G, IoT, SaaS and AI, and they have to do it all securely. So with that dynamic happening with our customers, we are trying to pivot along with our partners to a model that more aligns with outcomes instead of our traditional motion of selling products. Customers are saying they care less and less about the speeds and feeds of the box and more about outcomes and, increasingly, those are coming from software. The control points are software, like DNA in the networking space and ACI in the data center.

Our customers want to customize how they consume, so we are looking at how do we simplify our customers’ consumption though buying programs like enterprise agreements? Which fundamentally means that if a customer is willing to commit to us on the outcomes they want to achieve, we'll give them value they cannot get transactionally. Over the past few years, we've been incubating that motion and it’s grown exponentially—it’s the lead motion in how customers want to consume their software, and it's also led to tremendous opportunity for our partners.

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