Cisco announced the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement (EA 3.0) at Partner Summit 2021 to rave reviews from partners and industry leaders. As we plan for general availability to partners in early 2022, now is the time to prepare so that Cisco and partners can work together to deliver solutions our customers need. With this in mind, I talked with Data#3 to hear their thoughts.
The new Cisco Enterprise Agreement (also known as EA 3.0) is a real game changer. The simplification and flexibility we put into EA 3.0 is helping pave the way for partners to assist customers of all kinds on their digital transformation journeys.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat about the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement with Graham Robinson, Group Practice Manager at Data#3—Cisco’s 2021 Global Software Partner of the Year. In this blog, I share key highlights from our talk. You can also watch this video to listen in on our entire discussion.
Gary: What changes are you looking forward to with the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement?
Graham: At Data#3, we build and deliver multi-architectural solutions for our customers. Under the previous enterprise agreements, we’ve had to manage multiple EAs for both ourselves and our customers. This included pricing, negotiating, and executing them and their overall management. This was quite a burden. The new Enterprise Agreement provides one unified agreement to structure the entire customer deal, removing that previous manual process.
I’m also excited about the partial commitment available in this new Enterprise Agreement. This feature allows customers that have the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement in place to trial new technologies and grow the number of licenses over time rather than having to commit to everything upfront.
Gary: How do you think the new Cisco EA will make Data#3 and all partners more relevant to their customers?
Graham: The new Cisco Enterprise Agreement helps us focus on delivering outcomes through a lifecycle approach. As you know, there’s a lifecycle to every customer investment and project. For us, it starts the moment the customer begins looking for a solution to a problem, all the way to how that solution is procured, implemented, adopted, and ultimately managed. It’s during that entire lifecycle where we can add value and become more relevant to our customers. During each phase of the lifecycle, we are able to deliver the software our customers need to address the outcomes they are looking to achieve.
The new Cisco Enterprise Agreement gives us an agile and flexible platform to build the solutions our customers need. We no longer have to confine our thinking and value we can create to the software the customer initially purchased. Instead, we can now right-size the software and expand the software consumed across Cisco’s broad portfolio of offerings to meet our customers’ current and future needs. That’s when we’re relevant and really creating value.
Gary: I liked what you just shared: “creating value.” Can you expand on that?
Graham: Value is about helping our customers maximize the return they get from their investment, while minimizing the investment they need to make. The new Cisco Enterprise Agreement gives us the flexibility to guide our customers’ investments toward the outcomes they want, while incrementally unlocking the value of these investments through the lifecycle approach.
Gary: What advice would you give to other partners out there who are still building their skills and capabilities around software?
Graham: Let me start by saying that Cisco partners shouldn’t think they have to have an existing, robust software practice and expertise to build the capability to resell Cisco software; this is simply not the case. We have found that you can take the expertise you have in Cisco products and then build upon this expertise.
That said, here are three points I think other partners should consider:
- Do your own research. Read and understand the software offering details, because it’s in knowing these details where you will create the internal expertise your customers will come to rely on.
- Take the lifecycle approach, aligning your services to what makes sense to your customers (and not what necessarily makes sense to you).
- Focus on customer outcomes in the language your customers use. And if you don’t find the right stakeholder that wants to talk about customer outcomes, then find a different stakeholder that does. Otherwise, you’re going to really have a cost conversation and not a value conversation.
Gary: How urgent is it that Cisco partners transform to selling the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement?
Graham: It is critically important that all partners prepare for this transition, and they can begin this transition now.
So far, we’ve been engaged with several early adopter partners like yourself in pilots. As we will expand availability of the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement to the broader partner community in early 2022, there are steps that partners can take now to get prepared:
- Partners can review the available launch materials and evaluate their certifications and authorizations to ensure that they can sell across the entire Cisco portfolio of software and services.
- Partners can participate in our robust training and enablement workshops that are rolling out now.
- Of course, partners can continue to sell the previous Enterprise Agreement 2.0, as they prepare for the transition.
And for partners who sell a lot of a-la-carte Cisco software, now is the time to get authorized and make selling the Cisco Enterprise Agreement their lead sales and services motion.
For more information on the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement, visit the Enterprise Agreement 3.0 hub on SalesConnect.
If you’re a Cisco partner and have not worked with Enterprise Agreements before, become authorized to sell Enterprise Agreements today.
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