The theme of this year’s Partner Summit conference is “Everything Possible,” and it ties perfectly to what’s happening with our partner programs, where we are expanding your possibilities on many levels. We’re giving you new ways to differentiate yourself with your customers, new ways to transact where and how the customer wants to consume, and new ways to earn incentives and rebates based on the value you deliver to your customers.

The starting point for this increased flexibility is the Cisco Partner Program, which recognizes and rewards how you create value for customers. It’s based on four distinct roles partners play with customers. Since we launched the Program at Partner Summit last year, the integrator and provider roles went live with great momentum, and developer and advisor roles are going live on November 29.

table illustrating the Cisco Partner Program
The Cisco Partner Program

Evolving Our Specialization Portfolio to Showcase Partner Value

Last year, we pivoted our program to a customer-in view. Now we are embarking on a similar journey to address our specializations as we migrate to three categories of specialization.

Cisco Partner Program Specializations graphic

The biggest shift here is the move to solution specializations. Our certifications have always been built on Cisco architectures and your world-class technical capabilities. Now we are evolving our architectural specializations into cross-architectural solution specializations that reflect customer priorities. These are grounded in technology domains that address our customers’ highest priorities: Secure, Agile Networks; Hybrid Work; End-to-End Security; Internet for the Future; and Optimized Application Experiences.

Solution Specializations Align Offers to Customer Priorities
Solution Specializations Align Offers to Customer Priorities

The solution specialization stack is built on offers you’re already selling, which leverages your existing investments. For example, you can achieve offer specialization by delivering offers such as Full-Stack Observability, SASE (secure access service edge), Hybrid Workforce or Private 5G offers. These are lightweight by design and purpose-built for the offers that are relevant today. However, lower barriers to entry make it easy to adjust as customer demands evolve. Offer specializations qualify you for select status.

Partners who excel in more than one offer can achieve the next level: a solution specialization. This shows your customers a greater span of expertise and differentiates you versus your competition. The solution specializations are analogous to advanced specializations today and lead to the premier and gold level in the Cisco Partner Program.

For partners who want more exclusive recognition, we will continue to have a higher tier of specializations. This upper level assures customers that you have deep expertise, that your practice cares for the full lifecycle and that you deliver validated, unique IP to the market.

This new specialization portfolio still recognizes your investments and unlocks incentives. However, we are reducing the administrative burden by eliminating continuous learning points requirements, individual role requirements and architectural silos. In fact, we are removing learning points requirements from our current specializations right now.

For our provider partners, effective immediately, we are bringing the Cisco Powered Services designations into this framework to recognize your expertise in managed services. In addition, our business specializations validate that your expertise goes beyond Cisco technology into areas like customer experience and DevNet.

Today, we are announcing our newest business specialization, the Environmental Sustainability Specialization. It recognizes your commitment to environmental stewardship with customers who want sustainable IT. Available in the second half of FY22, this new specialization facilitates the return of Cisco gear, so we can recondition it for reuse or recycle it responsibly. When you earn this specialization, you will receive training, incentives and marketing resources to distinguish your practice.

As you know, we give you lots of lead time to adjust to change. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks and months.

More Opportunities to Earn with Cisco Incentives

The Cisco Partner Program unlocks a variety of industry-leading incentives. We continually update Cisco incentives to drive value for you in direct relation to the value you drive for customers.

For example, in March of this year we launched a new simplified deal registration process. As a result, we doubled the number of registered deals and reduced the average approval time to three hours, so your proposals reach customers faster. Now, we are extending deal registration across the full customer lifecycle with price protection for completing the Align phase in Teaming. We are also introducing deal protection on renewals.

Cisco Partner Summit 2021 blog series imageWith VIP, we are adding more opportunities to earn, especially for software and as-a-service offers. And because we know that the supply chain situation is challenging, we are providing extra help by accelerating VIP payments for SaaS offers that were booked in Q1 and extending the shipment deadline in VIP 37 by an additional six months.

Perform Plus rewards you for growing your Cisco business. And the more you grow, the more you earn. It’s focused on small and mid-size customers, and now we have added select customers, as well. Perform Plus covers hardware, software and, now SaaS offers, with increasing rewards the higher your growth rate. There are additional bonuses for selling key offers in our portfolio. So many ways to earn!

Partners are increasing their use of Lifecycle Incentives (LCI) as engagements and activations grow rapidly. We’ve added incentives for DNA Activation, Data Center Networking, Cloud Calling, Webex App, SecureX and ThousandEyes. In addition, we are simplifying LCI processes to save you time. And we have extended deadlines by three months to help with supply chain constraints.

With our renewed focus on attaching services in our Cisco Services Partner Program, we are giving you attach rate credit for partial shipments to accommodate current supply chain conditions. With the launch of Partner Lifecycle Services, we are getting you off to a fast start by leveraging existing delivery metrics that you already know. Of course, you can expect us to continue to support new additions to our CX portfolio.

You can see the many ways we are expanding your possibilities. Whatever the future brings, we will support you with programs to differentiate your practice and incentives to enhance your profitability.


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Marc Surplus

Vice President, Partner Strategy & Programs

Global Partner Sales