This weekend, France emerged victorious over Croatia and hoisted the trophy as FIFA World Cup champions. I was one of millions of viewers held in rapture by the tournament, especially as it entered the home stretch.

It was a little after 2pm local time a couple weeks ago when Salt Lake City airport’s Concourse C came alive with cheers and chants for Colombia as I was awaiting my flight home to enjoy the 4th of July Holiday. I was suddenly beamed into Russia’s Rostov Arena, where Colombia had battled back to tie the score and it was about to come down to penalty kicks…

Earlier that day I had spent a few hours with one of our Gold Partners discussing a solution model that ensures our customers realize the promised value from our joint solutions. Trying to keep with current events, here’s the analogy I used:

If we equate the goal (see diagram below) with delivering on business outcomes and realized value for our customers, we as Cisco only really play in the midfield of the soccer pitch. While our (predominantly) horizontal solutions are important components that enable business outcomes we NEED our partners (all of them) and their services to get to the goal.  Cisco can’t do this by ourselves and it presents a critical opportunity for our Partners to innovate with services, industry approaches, and/or ISV integration to accelerate the delivery of business outcomes.  In addition, this gives them the opportunity to differentiate themselves (and Cisco in the process).  It’s up to our partners to innovate in the penalty area as this is how we get to the goal!

Here’s a simple example: Cisco’s SD WAN Solution by in large disrupts traditional models of WAN deployment and policy models.  This can be furthered with infrastructure ISV’s specializing in policy deployment and telemetry that give customers additional network insight (think Network Intuitive).  Partners have both integration and additional resale opportunities.  While this helps, a true business outcome will require (in most cases) a vertical application and specific sales approach.  This could be a POS application that drives same store sales in a retail environment, or a healthcare application that creates more efficient workflows for nursing personnel that elevate patient care.  Again, these drive additional integration opportunities (profitability), but more importantly differentiation and stickiness for Cisco and our Partners!

Back in Concourse C as the game continued Yerri Mina helped bring Colombia back into the game, but in the end the winning differentiator was Eric Dier from England that landed the winning penalty kick.  I never knew there were so many Colombia fans in Utah, maybe it was the allure of the underdog.   Regardless we need to realize our Cisco strengths in our horizontal architectures, the skills of our partners and ecosystem, and ultimately our collective ability to deliver true business outcomes.  By our partners differentiating within the penalty area together we achieve our customers goals.


Matt O'Brien

Senior Business Development Manager

Global Partner Organization (GPO) - Digital Transformation and Industries