If there is one word that summarizes Cisco’s 2020 Partner Innovation Challenge, that word would be “diverse.” This year’s challenge exemplified partner diversity across several dimensions, from partner size, where we saw everything from regional shops to global partners create amazing submissions; to geographical diversity, with submissions from Egypt, Nigeria, Australia, and Norway; and technical diversity, representing the strength of Cisco’s entire portfolio.
It’s clear that with innovation as the guiding light, any partner, of any size, and in any location can build meaningful solutions with the breadth of Cisco products. In fact, we saw a five-fold increase in 2020 submissions compared to our launch in 2018, with more than $1 million awarded over the last three years. Compared to past challenges, more than 40% of total submissions in 2020 came from Europe and the Middle East, compared to 5%, while 80% were from new partners that had not participated in the challenge before.
Deciding on finalists and ultimate winners was far more difficult in 2020 with so many excellent entries. This made the announcement of our 2020 Partner Innovation Challenge winners a particularly exciting moment at Partner Summit Digital, which had nearly 9,300 people participating around the world in real time. We showcased the impressive results and how our partners are building intellectual property on top of Cisco as a platform to solve customer challenges. We are putting more emphasis on supporting innovation with our partners. In fact, challenge prize money increase in 2019 as the number of submissions increased almost four-fold. I’m happy to say that the challenge exceeded our expectations in participation as well as the quality of submissions, and several submissions are already in pilot with customers.
Let’s take a look at our winners!
First Place: Outcomex (Australia) – $200k
The Outcomex team built Farmdeck to increase productivity, improve decision making, and ensure both safety and security on farms. Tasks, such as daily water tank checks, livestock counting, and electric fence monitoring are tedious but essential tasks farmers undergo to be operational. Using a combination of IoT sensors, Cisco industrial gateways, Meraki devices, and cloud computing, Farmdeck offers real-time visibility and analytics allowing the user to easily monitor their environment, make informed business decisions, automate certain tasks, and increase safety.
I had the opportunity to interview Marco Delgado after Outcomex took home first place. I encourage you to take eight minutes and hear what Marco had to say:
Second Place: Logicalis (Brazil) – $75k
Insider threats related to credential theft, criminal insiders, or even negligent employees are growing dramatically in regions like Latin America where a lower-skilled, less trained workforce is an easy target for criminal organizations. That’s why Logicalis built R.42 Biometrics, which leverages cloud AI technologies along with Cisco AnyConnect, ISE, and DUO to create a facial recognition and liveness detection that is used to authenticate different types of users prior to their use of a corporate network. This helps customers drastically reduce the threat vectors, and protect their business from data theft, fraud, and espionage.
Third Place: LiftInnovate (USA) – $25k
Lift V.Ready provides various levels of government with features like one-click-to-join for participants without traditional enterprise calendaring at their disposal. Experiences can be customized by integrating video meetings into existing government workflows which increases user consumption with attendee orchestrations needed for various agencies, higher education, and the legal court system. And all these sensitive communications are secure because V.Ready is built on top of APIs with Cisco WebEx.
Special Recognition for an Inclusive Future: Connect PS (Egypt) – $15k
SWAC is a Secure Wise Automated Collaboration solution built by Connect Professional Services that leverages Cisco WebEx to enable secure virtual visits between incarcerated individuals and their families, especially the almost 42% who do not receive visitors. Built to enhance WX, this solution solves problems for prisoners and inability for in-person visits while ensuring security. Administrators can score and record inmate behavior and visit requests are automated through a dedicated web portal that can be accepted or rejected according to the inmates disciplinary score. This solution decreased facility PPE costs by 20% by moving 90% of visits to be virtual and shrunk the administration processing time for visit planning by 90%.
Cisco is committed to innovation at every level of our business. From our products and customer experiences to the foundations of programmability. We know that innovation often comes from our partners and we work hard to help ignite their opportunities.
A big thank you to all of the partners teams that participated in the Cisco Partner Innovation Challenge this year! As we plan our fourth challenge, I’m especially looking forward to how our partners are thinking about the future and what they are doing to ignite innovation and help customers be agile, relevant, and profitable. We will be announcing the 2021 Partner Innovation Challenge in Spring of 2021, so keep an eye out on SalesConnect for details!