Competition in digital business transformation is heating up, and it’s forcing our customers to think differently. It’s forcing them to choose between two paths—to be disruptive in their own business and own their digitization journey, OR to be disrupted by other companies and lose business to competitors who can offer complete solutions and better experiences to end users. No one wants to be disrupted (Cisco included!) so we must offer our customers the right path.

Digitization is forcing Cisco to transform how we do business, and it is forcing our partners to think differently as well. Our partners are stepping up their own digital game and refining their unique value propositions to help customers accelerate their transformation. Partners are simplifying complex solutions so customers can purchase, deploy, manage and adopt new capabilities easily. They are focused on refining their industry expertise and services expertise. In addition, they are looking to Cisco to provide two things: the right secure intelligent digital platform, and to connect them with other trusted partners to round out the solutions and services delivered to customers.

Together we know that no one company can deliver a digital business outcome to a customer—in fact, it requires an ecosystem ofpartners to achieve that goal. So that is the path we’re taking.

Our Industry Partner Ecosystem Investment

I’m pleased with how deeply we have built out our partner ecosystem, with an expanded multi-partner strategy that now includes a new “normal” set of industry partners that we work with on a daily basis. To date, we’ve delivered over 40,000+ multi-partner deals and that number climbs daily.

The Cisco Industry Partner Ecosystem consists of six major partner types that my team and I work with regularly to develop and deliver solutions for manufacturing, transportation, retail, healthcare, financial services, energy, and smart connected cities. Together we work across multiple architectures, technologies, applications and services with the help and coordination of multiple partners to deliver secure solutions on our digital platform that enable business outcomes for customers.

But we cannot deliver the right solutions without this ecosystem of industry partners. And we cannot deliver digital business outcomes without synergizing all necessary partner types. While it might seem that more players would equal less opportunity for all—the opposite is actually true. The multi-partner approach can be a force multiplier in profitability. For example, when our traditional resellers leverage an expanded partner ecosystem and work with independent software vendors (ISVs) or digital solution integrators (DSIs), they expand customer deal size faster than resale business alone; sell more software, services and recurring revenue; increase their gross margins; and grow their relevance to the customer.

The key is to have the right mix of multiple partners in the deal to unlock the entire value of an opportunity. Already we have made significant investments, built supporting programs, and created industry-leading partner sales acceleration training to ensure our partners can engage with each other to deliver the right industry solutions to the right customer buying centers, monetize their solutions, and proactively own the digitization conversation.

Recently we had the opportunity to bring resellers and ecosystem partners together under one roof to engage with each other at our Partner Xperience program (June 11-13) at Cisco Live in Orlando. For the first time, we focused on sessions that highlighted multi-partner engagements within vertical solutions, which our partners really valued.

It’s a great time to accelerate profitability by leveraging our ecosystem of industry partners!


Shelly Blackburn

Sr. Director, Engineering & Architectures, Americas Partner Organization