Cisco Investing $75M In Partner-Led Efforts

By Kelly Teal Comments
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Cisco Systems Inc. is investing $75 million for Partner Led systems and support in fiscal year 2012.

The money comes in addition to other financing Cisco has announced for its channel partner program, which has been broken into two segments: Customer Led (for the enterprise and service provider segments) and Partner Led (for the midmarket and SMB markets).

On Wednesday, Andrew Sage, Cisco’s vice president, worldwide, Partner Led, told press and analysts that Cisco wants to accelerate its traction among customers with up to 1,000 users. And now that cost-cutting has made Cisco leaner “and perhaps slightly meaner" than it was six months ago, the company is ramping up its partner marketing initiatives, as well as technical and sales support, Sage said.

“We are going to leverage marketing like we have never leveraged marketing before," he said.

As of January, about 1,000 partners worldwide will have access to a new marketing development funds program that will subsidize marketing, training for engineers and salespeople, and demo equipment. Cisco didn’t specify how much money will go toward those efforts.

For partners focused on the 250-and-below niche, the year-old Fast Track 2 program will feature simplified pricing on the Cisco products SMBs use most.

Cisco further is strengthening its pre-sales systems engineering for the midmarket. On Nov. 1, the technology giant will open its Technology Solutions Network to about 300 partners for a beta run. The Technology Solutions Network is comprised of hundreds of engineers who will work with partners on projects such as design and architecture, product choices and creating ideal solutions for customers. The program will be rolled out more broadly once the test window closes.

Finally, Cisco hopes to better enable communications with partners by adding Partner Led members to its Partner 360 partner relationship management platform.

“We are simplifying how we share data … and work with people in the field," said Sage.

The changes come as Cisco has laid off thousands of employees and plans to cinch spending by $1 billion in the 2012 fiscal year, which ends July 31, 2012. Despite the cuts, channel partners say they are invigorated by the changes because Cisco is concentrating more than ever on the indirect channel. To that point, Sage said 80 percent of Cisco’s business comes from partners.

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