Own It. That’s the theme for Cisco Partner Summit 2017, and it couldn’t be more apt for the program news we’re sharing at this year’s summit. We’ve been on a listening tour, hearing what partners think we’re doing well and what we could be doing better. And we’re owning that feedback by making it our north star as we determine priorities and investments in our partner program evolution.

If you aren’t attending Partner Summit in person, I encourage you to register for Virtual Partner Summit and watch the impact session called Accelerate Growth through the Power of Partner Programs (available by November 3rd). My entire leadership team will be there to share the latest program opportunities for all of our partners – resellers, providers, developers, and everyone who makes up our Cisco Partner Ecosystem™.

In fact, there is so much to cover that we can’t do it in one impact session, or just one blog. Read on to learn more about our plans to provide more information in more depth over the next several weeks.

To kick things off, let’s start with a snapshot of the program press announcements from Partner Summit, which focus on the latest news for resellers.

Building and Recognizing Capabilities

We help our resellers build capabilities through our Specializations. In August we began the process of simplifying that portfolio, starting with the express-level specializations.

Today at Partner Summit, we’re announcing the next wave of simplification. We are reducing our Advanced Specializations from 13 down to 5. We’re condensing content and adding new content to help you accelerate through the market changes.

We’re also announcing a brand new specialization – Master Networking. The intent-based networks launch last June signaled our belief that networking has never been more imperative. The new Master Networking Specialization, available March 2018, will help you enhance your capabilities to deliver the solutions customers need in the new era of networking.

We started FY18 with 28 specializations and we’ll end it with 11. By focusing on the capabilities driving the market transitions, we’re making it easier for you to focus on the highest potential for profitability.

While we help you build new capabilities, we also want to recognize the ones you already have. We’re starting with industry expertise recognition in Cisco Partner Locator for retail, healthcare, and manufacturing.  Qualified partners can apply for this recognition through our Partner Program Enrollment tool beginning November 1st.

Incent to Refresh

IDC tells us that 45% of organizations worldwide are planning to rapidly adopt more automated networks that better align with digital business needs. Think about that for a minute…. nearly half of all companies are planning a network refresh. That is a lot of refresh opportunity! Here are two ways we’re helping you go after it.

You told us we needed to take a fresh look at our deal registration incentives. We did more than look – we completely overhauled it. We drastically reduced the time required to submit a deal. We added a guided questionnaire to help you optimize each deal. When we piloted the new approval process in APJ, we saw approvals happen 4 ½ times faster. These changes are being rolled out worldwide right now, while you are reading this. Go check it out!

Additionally, we launched the new Migration Incentive in September. It works to refresh outdated Cisco and competitive equipment. It also has the added benefit of keeping used equipment out of the gray market and the landfill.

These incentives are available for products across our entire portfolio – not just networking.

Move to Lifecycle and Recurring Revenue

While we were listening to you, we noticed that our most profitable partners have certain things in common. Lifecycle selling really stands out in that list. We’re investing there, too.

In FY18, we are doubling the number of partners in our Lifecycle Advisor Program.  We’ve also introduced two new areas to our Value Incentive Program (VIP). VIP Activation rewards you for turning on the features in our products that boost business outcomes. This helps you accelerate customers through to the adoption and expansion phases of the lifecycle.  Meanwhile, VIP Annuity incents you to drive monthly recurring revenue and to renew your deals.

 Want More?

As you can see, there is a lot going on in programs. I hope this quick summary of our news from Partner Summit gives you an idea of just how much we’ve taken your feedback to heart.  However, it only scratches the surface. Be sure to check back here with us later in November. Sandra Flinders, Sr Director of Partner Programs, will be taking over programs blogging duty next with Part 2 of this story. In fact, we have an entire series of blogs about our programs coming to keep the conversation rolling in the months ahead.

For now, be sure to check out Virtual Partner Summit. And please comment below to let us know what other topics you’d like to hear about in more depth. As always, we’re listening.