Cisco Partner Experience Platform Turns One: What Partners Need To Know

“We are on this journey to simplify. We want to continue to help our partners simplify the business activity and that they aren’t spending too much time on things that are redundant because we do know that time is money,” Cisco’s José van Dijk tells CRN on the one-year-old Cisco Partner Experience Platform (PXP).

Leading With Experience

As IT environments become increasingly complex, Cisco has been hard at work simplifying its processes so that partners can get back to what they are good at: being strategic advisors helping their customers through the entire lifecycle of a solution, according to José van Dijk, vice president of performance and partner operations within Cisco’s Global Partner Organization.

Cisco in 2020 revealed its digital Partner Experience Platform (PXP), a single source to help the channel plan and renew deals, view incentives and certification information, and even collaborate with fellow Cisco Partners. The platform was designed to whittle down the more than 180 tools that partners had access to within Cisco, with a goal of retiring and consolidating 50 percent of the separate tools into PXP. Since then, van Dijk and her team have been so far able to reduce the number of tools by 32 percent. In some cases, some tools have been eliminated — ones that partners weren’t using at all. In other cases, the tools have been refreshed and added to the PXP. And that work, van Dijk said, will continue in earnest as Cisco continues to clean house and simplify needlessly complex operations for channel partners.

van Dijk sat down with CRN to catch up on the work the tech giant has been doing to enhance the PXP, the feedback that partners have to offer, and the new insights and data that partners have access to that is transforming how they do business.

Here’s what she had to say.

How much progress have you and your team made in consolidating disparate partner tools onto the PXP platform?

What we’re really striving for is to deliver the industry leading customer experience. And we’re constantly driving that full integration with partner success. That’s my job — that’s what I’m being held accountable for. We’re doing this by focusing on three key areas: simplification, digitization, and personalization. With simplification, we want to retire 50 percent of the total [partner] tools and this will not happen overnight. We’re at 32 about percent right now. But when I took this job about two and a half years ago, I asked what the top tools were that partners were using, and I got about 180 of them. So, that was not a good answer. Then I said: “Let’s make sure that we get the right information and data in the hands of our partners.” PXP has been purpose built for our partners [with a] single sign on, which is super important as well, and access to multiple personas within the partner organization so partners can perform as well as transform. It’s not only making sure they can do today’s business, but tomorrow’s business.

The purpose of PXP is as we’re looking at all of these tools, we can say “no one uses this, so it’s a waste of money and time,” and also [look at] the ones that people are using. And for those, what [features] are there that we can consolidate so when we move into PXP? It’s not only a lift and shift.

Do you have a goal for when your team will complete the integration into PXP?

No, and I think the reason why I think it’s a no is because we discover new things all the time. When we look at perform and transform and what we need between now and a three- to four-year plan, things evolve. So, there might be things that we’re thinking right now should be immediately eliminated or consolidated, but the view is evolving. I want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing. And I want to make sure we’re looking at user experience. This is very much something that we’re looking at with [Tony Colon, Cisco’s senior vice president of CX, engineering and product incubation] and his organization because he owns the partner experience from that side of the house. So together, we’ve been reviewing each of the tools and [deciding] where we should move them and how they fit into the house. I think the most important thing is that we’re not doing a lift and shift. We’re constantly improving [and] adding more doors to the house.

How important are the analytics that are being added into PXP for partners?

The machine we have behind AI and machine learning, we developed. And we have been sitting on about ten years of customer data. Every house has a foundation, and the foundation for [PXP] is the data. We’re looking at how to use AI to look at the 10 years of data as digital doors to the house. One example is if a partner wants to do a bit of collaboration, but then we see that they haven’t really done much collaboration and they haven’t done any training whatsoever in the organization for collaboration, we can push information for Cisco Black Belt [training academy].

What are partners still asking for from the PXP?

I think what our partners are looking for in the next wave is more actionable insights. Tell me what I need to do. Tell me when [it’s time] for renewal, tell me when I have this deal, and based on the buying models of this customer, where I should be growing. Getting that information in the fingertips at the right moment is now what they’re definitely asking for. We’ve gotten fantastic feedback from partners and the uptake is exactly where we want it to be, but of course, we want more! So, we have to move on.

What’s your message to Cisco partners right now?

We are on this journey to simplify. We want to continue to help our partners simplify the business activity and that they aren’t spending too much time on things that are redundant because we do know that time is money. The more collaboration we can drive across the partner ecosystem, co-innovation and co-selling, we know that the business will improve from there.

From the PXP perspective, it’s about one place to go. AI will get bigger and bigger within the whole PXP environment because we want to make sure that our partners do know what to sell, where the cross-sell opportunity is, and making sure [data] is in the hands of our partners as well.