Last month I hosted a two day advisory meeting for 15 of our largest, most strategic global partners. These companies represent integrators, ITSPs, and consultants who have a huge impact on the IT industry and represent $370 billion in annual revenue. During this meeting, Cisco’s VP of Growth Initiatives and CEO Chief of Staff Ruba Borno talked about correlations to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and what customers need to think about to digitize their business.

Maslow’s great innovation was to suggest that we can’t fulfill our higher selves until we’ve satisfied five fundamental stages: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Once a human had fulfilled all five stages, they could attain the sixth stage: self transcendent needs. According to Ruba, there is a digital analogue to this for business—a position which really resonated with our partners. If you picture a pyramid, the digital business hierarchy of needs starts with “security” as the bottom layer, then “reinventing the network” as the next layer, then “enabling a multicloud world” above that, then “unlocking the power of data” and, lastly, “human experience” at the top. This could be thought of as a blueprint for how Cisco and our partners organize around a common set of priorities. We have all the architectural ingredients, but we rely on our partners to help us make this hierarchy real for customers.

In addition to Ruba’s presentation (for more explanation, visit her blog: Six Imperatives to Future Proof Your Digital Business), we asked other Cisco leaders to share their business direction, technology updates and partnering plans. Most importantly, we listened to our partners’ feedback on how we can improve our strategy and business opportunities. With more than 85% of our business going through partners, their feedback is imperative. Some of that feedback included: engaging in more co-development and co-innovation with partners; focusing Cisco and partner sales training on displacing competitive offerings; and building a stronger Cisco brand with partners’ vertical market buyers.

What’s really important about these kinds of partner advisory sessions is they help us collectively shape our future together and the success of our mutual customers. With Cisco’s portfolio, constant listening, and robust partners, we are well positioned to help customers transform to digital.



Ken Trombetta

Vice President, Global and Strategic Partner Organization

Global Partners Organization (GPO)