The “We’re Listening” blog series has always focused on what Cisco is hearing from both our customers and partners, and the improvements we’re making to the customer and partner experience. However, the partner experience deserves unique attention for the critical role that partners play in our business ecosystem.

Within Cisco, we have a huge focus on the Partner perspective and how to optimize success for our partnerships. As Vice President of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, Maria Cannon is responsible for the strategies that develop and enable Cisco Partners.  I’ve asked Maria to join us for an expert view on what defines a successful partner engagement, and what Cisco is doing today to transform the partner experience for greater success for both our partners and end customers. 

Maria Cannon_Cisco_April2013 By Guest Contributor Maria Cannon

Partners are a key part of Cisco’s strategy to deliver successful outcomes for our end customers. Cisco depends on a global network of Partners to provide scale, skills, and capabilities at both local and global levels. Attending partner events around the world, including the recent Partner Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, I have the fortunate opportunity to meet and speak directly with many Cisco channel partners.  While the details vary, the general theme coming from these conversations is the same: customers are evolving their business models and have new technology requirements aligned to whole business solutions.

And that’s just the beginning: partners also tell me that, beyond products, services and sourcing technology, Cloud and Hybrid IT solutions that fit customers’ needs are central to the changing business landscapes they are encountering.  Breaking the mold of “business as usual” is what Cisco partners do best, and as a company, Cisco is working together with our ecosystem of partners to drive successful business engagements and transform their  customer enterprises.

What creates a successful partner engagement?  

Over 80% of Cisco’s business is driven by our global ecosystem of Channel Partners, Solutions Partners and Distributors.  Cloud, Hybrid IT, and the Internet of Everything are presenting unprecedented opportunity in the marketplace. Addressing new customer business models is Cisco’s highest priority, as is listening to our partners and customers.  Here are a few things we’re doing now to transform the partner experience and enhance engagement:

The Next Generation Partner Experience – During Partner Summit, John Chambers, CEO and Bruce Klein, SVP of the Worldwide Partner Organization, highlighted the importance of partner satisfaction with Cisco.  Three key drivers of partner satisfaction are engagement with our sales teams, experience with our tools and systems, and the economics of doing business with Cisco in terms of products, programs, and profitability.


Partner Listening – Improving our partner-listening processes coupled with actively communicating updates on actions we’re taking in response to their feedback.

Selling with Partners – Developed new global training for all Cisco sales and account teams to help them better understand and align with our channel partners’ business models.


Partner Transformation Simplifying relationship management for our customers and partners through our Partner Transformation Initiative. We began with a blueprint for partner business to align partner-facing systems and tools.

Cisco Sales Connect – A new mobile platform that ties together Cisco marketing content, demos, proposals, and training all in one location. Accessible via applications for iPad, iPhone, as well as Android tablets and phones. Partners can view an overview here.


Partner Program Evolution – Continuing our focus on value versus volume, we are rewarding partners for the value they create and for having the broadest range of Cisco expertise.  Partners can tap into new solutions through the Cisco Partner Ecosystem and expand conversations with new lines of business.  Find out more about the program evolution here.

 Partner Business Skills – Cisco’s Business Transformation Certifications help partners to engage customers as trusted advisors beyond product knowledge and to increase skills in driving a strategic view of customer needs.

These are just a few of the many ways in which Cisco is transforming the partner and customer experience and enabling engagement—and there is much more to come.  Listening to and working with our partners and customers, Cisco continues to bring about positive business transformation for both.


Curt Hill

Senior Vice President

Customer Assurance