Last week, we held a TweetChat with Cisco’s new Global Partner Marketing VP Amanda Jobbins.
During the hour-long Twitter session, we covered a lot of ground--Amanda’s Partner Marketing priorities, new campaigns for partners, what she heard on her listening tour with partners, and ways that Cisco is helping partners use social media.
We also learned some interesting factoids about Amanda and how she’s adjusting to life in the United States after living in the U.K.
If you missed the chat, we’ve got a recap of what was discussed, including Amanda’s answers to some great audience questions. This is the first of many discussions Amanda plans to have with partners and wants to continue the dialog to ensure that marketing programs reflect what partners need. You can send along questions and comments to her directly @amandajobbins.
We started the chat off with a few interview questions for Amanda to warm up, then answered audience questions:
Q1: What are your key priorities for Cisco Partner Marketing?
@amandajobbins: I have 5 goals: brand/value, online/social communities, marketing enablement, demand marketing, & ecosystem.
Two additional driving principles: communications & partner insight.
Q2: Cloud is the word on everyone’s lips…how are you helping partners market cloud? Read More »
Mike points out that all service contracts and warranties are not created equal, especially when it comes to networking. As a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, you never realize how good a service contract is until you need it. His recommendation: Be prepared and look at the fine print.
Basic Questions Only: With “good-enough” vendors such as HP, a warranty service call is limited to answering only the most basic questions. More often than not, they will ask questions along the lines of, “Have you tried rebooting your switch?” If that doesn’t work, the vendor simply ships a replacement.
No Troubleshooting: The majority of warranties do not include troubleshooting at all. Yet network and configuration issues account for 70% of support center calls where service is often provided on a first-come first-served basis, with no effort to prioritize calls.
TCO Calculations: If a company makes that narrow calculation of upfront discounts on products and maintenance, they are not looking at the total operating environment that they’re actually creating and overall TCO.
Impact of Downtime: Companies lose an average of 3.6% of revenue per year to downtime, according to an Infonetics Research report “The Costs of Enterprise Downtime.” Unplanned downtime also damages the reputation of the business, a significant cost even if it is difficult to quantify.
Smart Services to the Rescue: To provide customers proactively identify and address network problems Cisco has invested aggressively in smart services capabilities. These software-enabled technical and professional services proactively seek out, diagnose, and remediate issues before they even become problems. This can dramatically improve the uptime of networks as well as the user experience.
In a competitive market, differentiation makes all the difference. Whether you’re selling sneakers or servers, being able to offer the widest selection of products to meet a broad set of needs is critical in helping to drive growth and grow profits.
So today’s announcements of three new reference configurations focused on Microsoft applications and technologies will likely please you—now our partners will have even more opportunities to sell a broader set of solutions, giving customers more choice.
Today, along with our storage partners, Cisco is greatly expanding our channel partners’ ability to offer customers Microsoft-based private cloud, data warehouse, or OLTP configurations based on shipping Cisco UCS server and Nexus networking products. Three standalone, discrete reference architectures are now available: A Cisco-developed SQL Server 2008 R2 Data Warehouse solution; a Cisco-developed SQL Server 2008 R2 Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) offer; and Cisco as the server partner with NetApp as they bring to market their NetApp for Private Cloud offer as part of Microsoft’s Hyper-V Private Cloud program.
During the broadcast, he offered an overview of how services are a key differentiator for Cisco partners, and he explained how services can drive partner profitability. Here’s a replay in case you missed it.
Cisco’s services strategy places the partner at the center, according to Bob, because partners are critical to Cisco’s go-to market strategy, whether a partner is selling professional services, managed services, or technical services.
In terms of sales, it used to be that products generated far more revenue for partners than services. Five years ago, 80% of partners’ business was product-based, and 20% was generated by services. Now, partners’ business is almost split evenly between product and services. Bob then told viewers that services help an end-customer see how technology can really generate business outcomes.
Want to learn more? In addition to the video replay above, we’ve got a text summary of the broadcast, along with time stamps to identify sections in which Bob addresses key topics, such as market opportunities around architectures, success stories, and how Cisco’s services are different from those competitors offer.
With all the interest and decisions around the products and new capabilities involved in your next IT upgrade, it’s easy to have key questions about the service plans slip through the cracks. Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. Here are a few suggestions:
Who delivers the services?
In this wild, woolly world of contracting and subcontracting, you can’t necessarily assume that the company that closes the service contract will actually be the one that fulfills that contract. This is especially true if you have facilities in multiple locations. So if subcontractors are involved, you’ll want to know who those subcontractors are, what specializations, certifications, or other qualifications they have in place, and what their customer satisfaction scores look like.
Which organization is the point of contact for engaging the services?
If more than one provider is involved, does one organization serve as the entry point for access to services, or do you have to pinball around until you find the subcontractor who maps to the specific need?