6 Cisco Partner Programs Leading The Channel Charge In 2017

6 New Tools For Partners In 2017

New security training, programs to help partners sell, and digital transformation workshops are just a few of Cisco's biggest channel initiatives this year to drive partner profitability.

"All of these [programs] directly align in the Americas' priories around digital, security, software and core," said Rick Snyder, senior vice president of Cisco's Americas Partner Organization, in an interview with CRN. "We have some major initiatives currently underway to help our partners succeed and really thrive this year."

Here are six initiatives Snyder and his team are focusing on in 2017 to help better engage, enable and evolve its channel community.

Security 'Fire Jumper' Training

Cisco is rolling out a security training program, Fire Jumper, whose goal is to train thousands of channel partners around the company’s security architecture. The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant initially created Fire Jumper internally. It trains engineers -- most of whom have networking backgrounds -- to go "really deep into the entire security network architecture," said Snyder.

Cisco is now taking Fire Jumper to its partners so they can help engage engineers as they learn and become skilled at Cisco's architectural approach to security.

"Up until the last six months, it's been a challenge for us to get everybody around just how robust our offers are," said Snyder. "We got this robust set of capabilities that transcends all these different capabilities. We have network security, content security, security inside the data center, security in the cloud … I want to make sure our portfolio is applied and then enabled with the partner in a way that's very prescriptive to that partner's goal [to help meet sales] objectives."

Impact Business Outcomes Training

The networking giant's Impact Business Outcomes Training strives to help partners sell to those who make the technology buying decisions. Impact teaches sales and engineering teams how to develop new line-of-business relationships, learn the benefits of leveraging Cisco's Partner Ecosystem, and understand customers' financials to drive business outcome engagements.

"It basically is around helping partners deliver business outcome sales training. ... The partners that sign up are getting a massive break on some superb training. It's around selling verticals, around developing business outcomes, how to leverage independent software vendors," said Snyder.

He said Cisco already has 24 channel partners under contract for Impact, with the goal of training 100 partners and over 1,000 partner sales executives in 2017. "That's one of the big things we're doing this year to help partners in [their] evolution," said Snyder.

Partner Consulting Academy

Snyder said a major initiative is underway inside Cisco to nudge their partner account managers and sales engineers create a new conversation with the channel. Cisco's Partner Consulting Academy is an extensive training curriculum to help drive more profits for partners.

" I'm asking them to change it up from being much more than just partner relationship managers, to asking them to be business managers, general managers, when dealing with partners," he said. "We're giving them a whole set of analytics and tools using big data and analytics capabilities, and business insight dashboards by leveraging SAP and Tableau [software] … that helps our partner account managers sit down with a partner to help them understand the opportunities they have in their business. [That helps a partner] really understand where they can change it up to do something differently to drive profitability and go really where the money is."

Digital Solutions Integrator Program

The Digital Solutions Integrator program is designed for big data and software integrators and consulting firms, aimed to help channel partners drive new digital conversations.

"These are consultancies that do work in areas like big data, Microsoft capabilities, consulting in areas like digital --- many of whom are boutique. We're bringing them into the ecosystem, connecting them to ISVs and traditional reseller partners to drive business outcomes to customers," said Snyder. "A big part of everything is developing this partner ecosystem of ISVs, of digital solution integrators, of consultants, to bring these to our reseller partners so they can really collaborate with them."

The program guides customers on their digital journeys, driving business outcomes, and helps channel partners sell more software and services, increase deal sizes, and gain access to new buyers, according to Cisco.

Digital Ready Partner Acceleration Workshops

Cisco has built Digital Ready Partner Acceleration workshops to help partner sales teams capture sales opportunities associated with their customers' digital transformation efforts and accelerate network refresh opportunities.

"We've already run 45 Digital Ready Partner Acceleration workshops, where we've trained close to 600 partners on how to use the various tools that we made available to them – everything [from] databases about their accounts, to how to go in and actually launch a discussion around security, leverage a discussion around APIC-EM (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module) and automation to drive the new network refresh opportunities."

Partner Consulting And Innovation Team

Cisco's America's Partner Organization has launched a Partner Consulting and Innovation team that does everything from basic partner benchmarking and reports to helping solution providers find new opportunities.

"We can go in and do very deep consulting as well – getting inside and working with the CEO, COO, the CFO hand in glove to help them understand where they can unlock profit potential in their business by leveraging practices and leveraging their own services," said Snyder.