The recent Cisco Partner Summit was a significant milestone for many reasons. We debuted new leaders for Worldwide Sales and Marketing, Customer Experience, and the Global Partner Organization. We unveiled several new Cisco innovations spanning intent-based networking, security, and collaboration. But the thing I am most excited about it that we announced the winners of the first Cisco as a Platform Innovation Challenge for partners!

This challenge was created to accelerate partner-developed applications that add value on top of Cisco technology. Partner-developed intellectual property is becoming more and more important. According to Canalys 55% of partners are likely to develop their own applications. Why all the interest in development? This is the next wave of services for partners. The old wave focused on implementation, integration, and support services, which will continue to be important and a large part of your business. But, the next wave of services includes managed services, lifecycle management, and application development. And they bring much higher margins. According to IDC, services from application development can be as high as 70%. And, even if you don’t have a big team of full-blown developers today, you can start small with basic scripting, and begin to grow this lucrative part of your business.

Cisco Innovation Challenge

When we kicked off the challenge at Partner Connection Week in April, we were hoping to foster imagination for new use cases. And it did just that! We received dozens of submissions from partners big and small, from all over the globe. After an intensive process of reviews, we landed on 5 finalists. The finalists were Altus (Costa Rica), CDW (USA), MFEC (Thailand), Metsi (UK), and WWT (USA). It was hard to decide on just 2 winners, but I’m excited to share their stories with you.

1st Place Winner – Altus

Altus is a partner based in Costa Rica focused on IT services for omnichannel customer care. They have been doing creative things in this market for many years. Their winning submission for the Innovation Challenge was a solution called Project Bullhorn, with the aim of fostering collaboration between local city services and citizens. Bullhorn is a web and mobile application that integrates with Cisco Kinetic for Cities, Webex Teams, Meraki, and other third-party services like ServiceNow, IoT sensors, and social media platforms. With this end-to-end solution, citizens would be able to easily create service requests and communicate directly with their local officials and gain real-time feedback. This could be valuable for communicating and resolving issues such as late garbage service, school closings, road repairs, and more. When citizens feel their local government listens to them, it can lead to smarter city services and policy decisions. Learn more about Bullhorn in this Facebook Live interview broadcast at Partner Summit.

2nd Place Winner – MFEC

MFEC is a services partner based in Thailand, and they developed a solution called mDefense. This solution leverages Cisco Tetration and AppDynamics combined with machine learning to deliver predictive analytics for network services. So, why is this important? We all know that networks and applications go down all the time. For a large company like a bank, insurance provider, or telecom services provider, every second of downtime means not only lost revenues but frustrated customers. It can bring a halt to processing claims or making electronic funds transfers. MFEC’s solution uses machine learning to predict, alert, and remediate network and application issues before they happen. This has real potential and value for large enterprises who depend on business-critical applications every day.

As Innovation Challenge winners, Altus received $100,000 for their 1st place submission, and MFEC received $25,000 for 2nd place. Both companies are already working to bring their solutions to market, further demonstrating the value of partner-developed applications. All of the top 5 finalists showcased innovate ways to solve real customer needs, and created solutions with real market potential. Congratulations to our winners! And thank you to all of the partners who stepped up to participate in the Innovation Challenge.

I’m excited to share that the challenge was such a great success, we want to keep the innovation going! We have committed to another challenge in 2019. We are still figuring out the details and timeline, so stay tuned for an update over the next several months. As we kick off 2019, it’s a great time to reflect on a successful 2018, and look forward to a new year filled with fresh ideas for solutions and services that will help us all grow together!