Steve White
Program Vice President, IDC

Guest blogger: Steve White, Program Vice President, Channels & Alliances, IDC

Steve White is Program Vice President for the WW Channels and Alliances research team. He manages a group of channels and alliances analysts as well as their related research products, with extended teams in EMEA & APeJ. The Channels and Alliances research team focuses on research around changing partner ecosystem dynamics, following the trends and best practices to allow benchmarking. As part of the channels subscription programs, the WW team also run ‘Leadership Councils’ where industry channels and alliances leaders & their peers attend twice a year to discuss the latest research, trends, and drive the future research agenda. These councils enable unique analyst hosted conversations around the burning partner ecosystem topics.

The need for digital transformation has been magnified during the pandemic.

At IDC, we’ve observed how the impact of the pandemic has magnified IT market trends driving customer transformation, with many organizations having to address their business challenges and, simultaneously, those of their customers. Concurrently, the trend towards consumerization of IT has been accelerated, as businesses expect their technology to be flexible, consumable as a service, and solution focused rather than a series of upgrades.

As companies seek guidance and help to navigate their IT journey, the role of partners has become more vital.  In today’s accelerated digital world, partners should first focus on emerging customer needs and gaps created by the impact of the pandemic. They should then focus on delivering complete solutions that will help customers remain resilient in the future.

The Cisco Partner Program is helping partners adapt

Successfully leading customers through a digital transformation requires that partners continually transform themselves by investing in emerging technologies and expertise that reinforce their status as a trusted digital advisor. For example, the shift to delivering solutions will require partners to develop intellectual property (IP) or partner with other specialized partners to complement their offerings. Partners already investing in IP as a differentiator should focus their development on solutions to help customers reach better outcomes faster and leverage technology to flatten the curve towards recovery and growth.

Cisco has been adapting to digital transformation market trends and preparing partners to transform and succeed through life-cycle services and more ways to capture recurring revenue. With the pace of digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic, the Cisco Partner Program is positioned to help partners continue delivering value and leading customers through their digital transformation.

Cisco’s leadership and investment in helping partners transform have been ongoing. The evolution of the Cisco Partner Program strategy aligns with partner goals of development, differentiation, delivering high-value solutions, and capturing opportunities across the life cycle.  Cisco’s partner strategy aligns with what IDC has been suggesting to partners over the past few years as they move towards becoming a  “partner of the future.”

At IDC, we have been telling partners to evolve in these four key areas:

  1. Move from a traditional on-premise IT focus to digital products and services
  2. Shift from selling to IT to selling to business and IT, and ultimately to the C-Suite
  3. Pivot from short-term deals to iterative, use case-based outcomes and a road map of continuous transformation
  4. Shift from a resale-centric approach to one that focuses on services and IP-centric solutions

Cisco Partners should lean in and leverage the Cisco Partner program’s many resources that support each of these transformational areas.

The next stage of economic recovery

IDC has developed a five-stage model for enterprise recovery that illustrates how technology suppliers and their partner ecosystems can help customers bridge the gap to the next normal. IDC believes that technology helps to flatten the curve towards recovery through the five business focus stages of:

IDC's 5-stage Enterprise Recovery Model from COVID-19 PandemicIDC has been surveying customers regularly about their status during the pandemic, and feedback suggests the recovery is taking hold. However, while many customers are pivoting fast in a uniquely challenging time, some industries experienced greater disruption. There are also significant differences regionally. We expect that those regions that have managed the pandemic impact and created effective vaccine rollouts offer a forward view to how things will play out elsewhere, but expect variations by region, customer, and industry.

For partners, this situation reiterates the need to meet your customers where they are, partner with them to help them with short-term business issues, and build towards the future.  We firmly believe those partners who show empathy and help more now will be better positioned with those customers moving forward.

Essential Guidance

IDC believes the IT market will continue to evolve. The magnification of trends during the pandemic has focused customers, vendors, and partners on using technology to solve customer problems. This refocus represents an opportunity for partners to evolve their business in more profitable ways.

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Marc Surplus

Vice President, Partner Strategy & Programs

Global Partner Sales