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Cisco: Partners play a crucial role

In an on-going series of Q&A's with channel executives the questions this time were put to Angela Whitty, managing director, partner, Cisco UK & Ireland

Even with Brexit, trade wars and fears of a slowdown the feelings from most major vendors is that the move towards digital transformation is unstoppable and that is driving opportunities for the channel. That is the case for Angela Whitty, managing director, partner, Cisco UK & Ireland.

MicroScope asked her for an update on the networking giant's current channel landscape and just how it is looking to reward partners this year.

Q. What is happening in the Cisco Channel Landscape right now?

“Over the last 12 months we’ve continued to increase our investment in the channel. Across our ecosystem and through a mixture of rebates and funding for co-development, as well as additional field and virtual resources to support our partner base.”

“In our ecosystem, we see large partners acquiring smaller ones to supplement their skill sets and capabilities, alongside phenomenal organic growth – our premier partner space alone has seen 30% growth in our last full year. Even in the current macro-economic environment, we are not opportunity constrained. Digital Transformation is driving customers to assess and invest.”

Q. Cisco is always associated with networking but are there other technologies that you are trying to get the channel involved in?

“We have the strongest portfolio that we have ever had, across a very broad scope of technologies - from our traditional networking base through to collaboration and security. But the continued advancement of our networking base is as important today as ever.”

“Whilst we don’t expect that every partner will adopt every technology, they are our route to market. Our aim is to understand their business priorities and bring the best Cisco has to offer to them, to help make every one of them successful, whether that’s technology specific or otherwise.”

Q. There is always lots of competition from vendors operating in pockets at the edge of the Cisco proposition. How do you ensure that partners still want to work with you?

“We constantly strive to make sure that we stay relevant to the business priorities of our partners as we know they have choices. Each one is an independent business in their own right, and it’s important that we help them to achieve their strategic objectives. We are continually assessing our engagement model, aligning our programmes to drive profitable growth and endeavouring to become easier to work with - we listen, we adapt, and we evolve. Right now we feel we have the best portfolio offering end-to-end innovation and security. That, coupled with increasing our reach keeps us relevant with our partners.”

 Q. At the start of last year there was an indication that Cisco would work more closely with distributors to extend the reach. How has that gone?

“It’s gone really well. We have received highly positive feedback, not only from our distributors but also from our second-tier partners. We work closely with our distribution partners on mentoring programmes to make as much Cisco resource as possible available. By participating at their events, as well as giving technology or segment specific overviews, we also have 1:1 meetings with as many partners on the day as possible. For us it means we can see more partners in a single day and they get access to a wider set of Cisco people in a single location. We will continue to refine how we do this to bring ever greater value through CY19.”

Q. As we get deeper into 2019 what can the channel expect from Cisco? What will be the main messages for the partners?

“We understand that now more than ever, our partners play a crucial role in our evolution as a company. Their market, customer and technical knowledge are key to us pivoting our business and moving from a transactional product and services company, to one whose business is primarily recurring revenues. We will therefore continue to make our investment and rebate programs the best in the market to continue to help our partners achieve profitable growth.”

“We will also continue to strengthen our technology portfolio either via internal R&D or acquisition, to ensure we stay ahead of our competition.” 


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