At Cisco’s Partner Summit last week in San Francisco, I was thrilled to host my first Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) regional session.

It came a month after I celebrated 30 years in IT sales and channels, and 90 days into my new role as the leader of the APJ Partner Organization. As I said to the roomful of 200 partners and many more tuning in virtually, I see myself as the #1 advocate for Cisco partners in APJ – representing their voice and interests across the entire Cisco organization regionally and globally.

Partnering is in my blood. I’ve worked with all types of partners, from resellers and distributors, to system integrators and cloud service providers – and I’m excited to take on the task of bringing Cisco’s partner business to new heights. On a personal level, I get my energy from people, so I couldn’t be in a more rewarding position than advocating for Cisco partners – building relationships, forging partnerships, and influencing stakeholders to achieve business outcomes.

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This brings me to a key takeaway of the APJ regional session, where I shared the stage with Irving Tan, President of Cisco APJ, and Dave West, Vice President of Architectures for APJ.

Full Speed in the Digital Age

Together with our partners, we are moving at full speed in the digital age, where everything starts with business outcomes. There’s no doubt that digital is happening here and now – it’s raising the expectations of our customers, focused on business outcomes.

However, just because digital is already happening doesn’t mean it’s an easy transition to make. It’s important to recognize that digital transformation is a new journey – it requires a new mindset, evolving our approach to selling, and evolving how Cisco and partners engage together, as well as how we engage with our customers. Irving outlined the main pillars of our digital strategy to address the top needs of customers in the digital age, including driving new digital initiatives to co-create with partners. We need our partners to embrace the change and go full speed – join us on this ride together to help our joint customers succeed in the digital age.

Innovation at Full Speed with Cisco’s Architectures

So how do we help our customers on their digital journeys? We’re a technology company at heart, so the answer lies in our unique brand of innovation – via a cross-architectural, end-to-end approach to deliver differentiation. As Dave explained, we are focusing on software to get the best value out of our hardware, and by innovating in our hardware, we’re leveraging all our capabilities around analytics, automation, and security. When we bring all the architectures together to deliver an end-to-end platform, we have an incredible opportunity to help our customers make the digital leap.

And again, it’s all about business outcomes – everything we do going forward will be simple, intelligent, automated, and secure. These are the building blocks of our innovation.

Moving Together. Every Time. Full Speed. 

When I first took on the role of leading Cisco’s partner business in APJ, I took inspiration from Sir Dave Brailsford, who as coach of the British cycling team led his team to win Olympic gold at both the 2008 and 2012 games. His approach to driving “1% incremental improvements” – analyzing every single aspect of performance, from aerodynamics, to nutrition, and even improving sleeping posture with better pillows and mattresses – resonated with my philosophy of making simple improvements to take an already high-performing team to even greater heights.

Don’t understate the power of 1% incremental improvements. I want to share two examples from my business that will make a tangible impact for our partners. The first one is aimed at raising the utilization of our dCloud demo platform among the partner technical community – because when we demo, we win. Another example is on ease of doing business – we reduced OIP deal approval time from 10 days to two days during pilots in Malaysia and Indonesia, and we plan to accelerate the changes across the rest of APJ.

Continuing in the spirit of simplicity, I have simplified the strategy for the APJ Partner Organization around 3P’s – People, Programs, and Partners.

  • People is about deepening our talent pool with training that is timely, accessible, and scalable for our Partner Account Mangers (PAMs) through to our extended salesforce in the partner community.
  • We’re focused on building out our Go-To-Market with partners, and I want to highlight two examples of how we continue to introduce programs that are ready for partners to adopt today:
    • ASAP (Architecture Sales Acceleration Program) – our initiative to help partners build pipeline and create demand through customer-focused workshops
    • iGnite – our signature “rewards” program, where partners selected for iGnite are provided “bookings targets” and are paid incremental rebates when they over-achieve these targets
  • Everything we do is to support the success of our partners – by building capacity, coverage, and capabilities, whether it’s around new consumption models, disruptive models like the Digital Transformation Office, cross-architecture solution selling, or peer-to-peer partnering

To learn more, I encourage you to watch the APJ geo session and other sessions from last week on Virtual Partner Summit.

I believe in this new digital era, we are all going to work much more closely together as part of an ecosystem. While we’ve shared our strategy, direction, and ideas with partners at Partner Summit, I’m always on the lookout for your feedback and input. Please feel free to reach out to me any time and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Partners, I want to thank you again for embracing the change and going full speed with Cisco!