Cisco’s Partner Summit is right around the corner, and I’m looking forward to sharing what’s coming in 2020. In the meantime, are you curious about whether we delivered on our commitments at our last Partner Summit?

What We Told You: We Will Recognize and Reward New Capabilities

What We Did:

Our competency programs build our partners’ expertise in selling, implementing and supporting Cisco solutions. They are the foundation of our entire Partner Program. Cisco partners deliver differentiated value to customers by achieving Certifications, Specializations and Authorizations. When Partners invest in these competencies, it fuels their growth and strengthens their relationships with customers.

Over the past year, we continued to build on our technology specializations. We added rewards in key areas like networking for Master level Specializations, the highest expertise in a Specialization. We expanded how partners can differentiate their expertise in working with small and medium-sized businesses by creating an SMB Track in the Express Specialization. And we aligned more of our content to software.

But the big news is that in the past year, we created a whole new genre of specializations to augment our partners’ business competencies. The first of these was the Customer Experience Specialization, launched this summer. It’s designed to enable and incent partners to cultivate customers’ success with their Cisco deployments.

Spoiler alert: We will reveal our next business specialization at Partner Summit.

What We Told You: We Will Simplify Business Transactions

What We Did:

Partners used to have to keep up with which programs they were eligible for and then enroll individually for each program. We implemented a simple, one-time enrollment, where a partner only enrolls once, and they automatically receive any rewards they’re eligible for. This is a *huge* time savings, and I think we reduced the average blood pressure among our partner operations people by a few points.

We also streamlined approvals through our Deal Registration program. For streamlined transactions below $50,000, we reduced approval times to an average of six hours. Any time we can squeeze out process time, it helps our partners be more responsive to their customers and, therefore, more competitive. We also added Meraki to our Migration Incentive Program in Deal Registration, which was very popular with partners.

Spoiler alert: We have more to share about Deal Registration at Partner Summit.

What We Told You: We Will Protect Your Profitability

What We Did:

VIP is our industry-leading incentive program, as it has been for the past 17 years. We continually improve it to address key market changes, keep mutual alignment between partners and Cisco, and accelerate partners’ success. This year, we increased the Account Breakaway bonus in VIP to incent partners to bring in new data center business. We also increased our Migration bonus to reward successful data center migrations to the latest technologies.

We expanded VIP Annuity to reward our partners who deliver continuous and recurring value to customers across all Cisco architectures. Through the year, we added a bonus for Master Specialized partners and added other new offers to the program, such as SD-WAN, DNA Spaces, AppDynamics, ACI and Network Assurance Engine subscriptions.

Spoiler alert: At Partner Summit, you can hear about how we’re making our programs more profitable for everyone, especially our small and mid-size market partners.

What We Told You: We Will Tie It Together Across the Lifecycle

What We Did:

We added so many resources to encourage long-term engagement between our partners and customers, it’s hard to cover it in a couple of paragraphs. My colleague, Sandra Flinders, is working on a blog solely on this, so keep an eye out for that.

I’ll just recap the three big things we did this year. As I mentioned, we launched our Customer Experience Specialization to enhance partners’ lifecycle practices, develop their people’s skills and boost customers’ success throughout their technology journey. All our Lifecycle Advisor partners automatically qualified for the Customer Experience Specialization on day one, and we financially incent them for investing in their practice and people.

We created a single new program called the Lifecycle Incentive program to reward partners for deploying software solutions across a customer’s network, then supporting them from adoption through to business outcomes. Your feedback helped us design the features of Lifecycle Incentives, like providing more predictable payment, adding more use cases, and paying the incentive closer to when services are delivered.

In addition, we evolved our Services Partner Program (CSPP) to focus on creating recurring value for customers, reward on-time renewals and encourage long-term relationships.

Spoiler alert: At Partner Summit, we will discuss a completely new type of incentive to encourage customers to work with partners as they implement new technologies.

Cisco and our partners are a winning combination, as we continue to innovate new and relevant solutions and services. I’m pleased about all the progress we have made to align Cisco, our partners and our customers this past year, and about how much momentum we have going into Partner Summit. If you aren’t able to make it to Las Vegas, don’t worry. Partners with a Cisco.com account can catch up on the happenings through Virtual Partner Summit here.


Marc Surplus

Vice President, Partner Strategy & Programs

Global Partner Sales