Co-authored by Amit Sinha, President and CCO at WorkSpan

The world of partnering has changed dramatically in recent years. With the wave of digital transformation, the shift to the cloud, and the acceleration of innovation and competition, successful organizations are investing today to be ahead of the curve in what’s being described as “The Decade of Ecosystems.”

Cisco has one of the largest partner ecosystems in the technology world and has been on a journey to streamline partner experience, invest in strategic tools and processes and deliver outstanding partner experiences to compete and win in today’s highly competitive markets.

At the WorkSpan Ecosystem Business Summit in Jan 2022, José van Dijk (VP of Partner Performance and Operations at Cisco) and Amit Sinha (President and CCO at WorkSpan) discussed Cisco’s successful partner program. This blog brings you essential insights from the session – zeroing in on the value of a good partner experience for long-term sustainable success (like Cisco’s). Let’s dive in!

José’s Role in Cisco’s Partner Program

With a successful career at Cisco for over 25 years, José has been responsible for simplifying, digitizing, and personalizing operations for partners so that they can co-sell with Cisco and offer the best benefits to customers. José’s in-depth industry experience helps Cisco transform its route to markets and go-to-market strategies with its partners. In addition, José helps Cisco expand and drive a decentralized operations organization in the Asia Pacific and Australia regions. Her multiple experiences in different roles and working in other parts of the world have made José a great modern ecosystem leader, enabling her organization to launch and accelerate groundbreaking partnerships for Cisco.

Importance of Right Partnerships for Cloud Transformation

It is essential to have the proper infrastructure in the Cloud space, which is possible with the right partners. Cisco has one of the most successful partner ecosystems in the industry, and they are critical to the company’s shift to hybrid, multicloud, app-centric cloud environments. Over 90% of Cisco’s business is driven through the channel, allowing innovation and the creation of new experiences for partners and their customers.

Ecosystem partnerships drive engagement for Cisco as partners increase value across the entire customer life cycle. Additionally, Cisco’s Connected Experience provides a platform to ecosystem partners that helps them adapt to rapidly evolving operating models and customer business challenges.

A Dedicated Platform for Partner Experience Enhancement

For successful co-selling, partners must be in alignment with company business processes. For example, before this partner experience transformation project began, Cisco had over 172 partner tools. After soliciting feedback from their ecosystem partners, Cisco developed and launched an entirely new platform, significantly combining and reducing the number of tools to enable Cisco to offer a world-class partner experience that delivers outstanding customer value.

Cisco PXP - Partner Experience PlatformHaving the right tools and information needed is essential for all ecosystem partners to succeed. Data is like the foundation of a house, and all its rooms contain resources that must be connected. The goal is to enable and empower Cisco partners with an adaptive end-to-end collaborative platform, with a single gateway to all resources partners need. Further capabilities allow partners to use AI and ML-based Analytics and strategic planning to discover new customers and markets.

Cisco’s partnership strategy focuses on not just making things easier for their ecosystem partners but making sure they generate revenue too. To improve the end-to-end partner experience, Cisco created the Partner Experience Platform (PXP), where partners have co-developed, tested, and created with Cisco.

“It’s super important that we deliver an integrated experience to all of our
partners that brings together the power of co-selling to the market.”

José Van Dijk, VP – Operations & Partner Performance,
Global Partner Organization (GPO) at Cisco

An Integrated Partner Experience in the Ecosystem Flywheel

Integration and alignment between ecosystem partners improve their power to sell to the market. Moreover, such a partner experience helps in scaling solutions and the size of clients, which enhances subsequent deals.

An integrated partner experience helps in:

  • Co-building innovative solutions to boost sales and keep things rolling
  • Co-investment to ensure there are ample resources to capture the market
  • Co-Marketing to create demand for the solutions
  • Co-Selling with all partners in the ecosystem for a joint selling motion

Cisco’s Connected Development Funds helped centralize over seven tools and 11 different platforms into a common framework with WorkSpan. The consolidated platform helps deploy funds optimized to develop Partners and rapidly improve the business model. In addition, a single platform makes it easy to track and analyze KPIs, ROI, and growth. As a result, rapid decisions in business strategy are streamlined by using AI and ML analytics.

Importance of Co-Sell Partnerships in the Ecosystem

Traditional reselling, when complemented by co-selling, opens up many new possibilities. Partners can tap into the skills of the partner ecosystem, develop innovative solutions and increase value for customers with better business outcomes. Of course, the deal size, creative relevance, budget, and other factors weigh into these co-selling opportunities. However, comprehensive customer solutions may be better served with multiple partners co-selling to deliver a total solution.

A considerable part of Cisco’s success has been through multiple co-sell opportunities. For example, Cisco created solutions for a grocery retail store – including unified communications, e-commerce self-service, customer experience, and much more.

Collaboration Between Cisco’s PXP Platform and WorkSpan

Cisco plans to utilize artificial intelligence to better engage with partners and improve their experience. The vision behind this roadmap is to catch the partners and solutions that can win a customer segment and base their business strategy upon suitable enablement materials.

By reaching the right target audience and building maturity within the partner ecosystem, Cisco leverages WorkSpan’s platform to coordinate co-sell motions. There are integrated plans in the PXP platform; if a partner focuses on an opportunity, then WorkSpan, by applying AI insights, provides similar opportunities for further co-selling opportunities.

The integrated platform approach connects sellers from Cisco, Resellers and Ecosystem Partners from their own CRM and orchestrates a combined selling motion – a key driver to increase seller productivity, quality of solutions and agility to bring value to our customers.

Cisco wants to complete the co-sell journey by focusing on ecosystem partners and the go-to-market strategies, sales cycle time, etc. For this, the PXP has an online training platform to help partners learn what they need, offering skills development and relevant educational courses.

Closing Thoughts – Partner Experience Transformation is Vital

Ecosystem partnerships will have an important market impact moving forward, and all partners need to be aligned and have a proper understanding of the business processes. The world is opening up, and companies can create great ecosystem partnerships for a lifetime. Focusing on the market and customers’ needs is the roadmap to success with partnerships. So, digitization and transforming the partner experience to the next level is crucial. Now, the time is for you to work with your partners to optimize your sales ecosystems. Are you ready to transform your ecosystem partner experience?

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Jose van Dijk

VP, EMEA Partner Sales & Routes to Market

Global Partner and Routes to Market Sales