Cisco: Partners, Capture That Digital Revenue


Lorna GareyCISCO MARKETING VELOCITY — Cisco opened its 10th Marketing Velocity summit at the historic Palmer House Hilton in Chicago on Monday, with general sessions in the historic grand ballroom. While speakers didn’t break much new ground – many presentations were the same seen at recent Cisco Live and Partner Summit events – the marketing professionals in attendance appreciated the unified message delivered by executives on stage as well as experts in various technical sessions, from data-center architectures to security.

Michelle Chiantera, VP, Global Partner Marketing, served as emcee. Chiantera talked about the power, and peril, of digital connections — customers demand 24/7 engagement, which as the recent passenger incident on United Airlines shows, can be a double-edged sword for companies driven more by process than a customer-centric ethos.

Cisco's Wendy Bahr“There has never been a better time to become a digital believer,” said Chiantera, challenging attendees to sell through both the entire customer life cycle and across Cisco’s portfolio. Channel-partner marketing experts heard loud and clear the message of being a trusted adviser, selling solutions with a business focus by entwining marketing and sales.

In a live poll, attendees were asked how tightly those practices are linked. Less than 9 percent said their companies’ marketing and sales teams are “extremely well aligned.”

Chiantera welcomed to the stage Chris Dedicoat, executive VP for worldwide sales and field operations, who pointed out that the percentage of business coming through the channel has risen under his tenure, from 80 percent to now north of 85 percent. Dedicoat assured attendees that CEO Chuck Robbins, who has roots in the channel organization, is committed to enablement for partners, many of whom are struggling with a skills shortage.{ad}

In fact, when asked how many attendees expected a budget increase for their marketing teams, not one hand went up.

“Push us, push us hard; make us move quickly as a company,” he said. “It’s an incredibly exciting time, what we can do together.”

One area where Dedicoat says Cisco remains committed to marketing enablement is security.

“I don’t think that we are yet seen as a security company,” he said, even though Cisco holds 9 percent market share overall in enterprise security and is No. 1 or No. 2 in revenue in its key categories, including NG firewalls.

“We stop 20 billion attacks per day, 7.2 trillion a year,” he said. “We’ve invested $106 billion in acquisitions, and that will continue.”

Both Dedicoat and, later, Wendy Bahr, senior vice president, Global Partner Organization, mentioned Meraki as a strong brand for the channel. However, Dedicoat also said one thing Cisco is not is a vertically focused provider — Cisco is leaving that to partners. It’s also not concerned about …


… white boxes, like those supported by the likes of Pluribus Networks — essentially, Dedicoat reminded attendees that Cisco is the fifth largest VC, citing investments in Blockchain and other emerging technologies to help partners spot both opportunities and threats.

On taking the stage, Bahr reiterated that Robbins is committed to the channel, calling him “your biggest advocate in the four walls of Cisco.”

“You are our most strategic and competitive asset,” she said. “It’s about the power of us together.”

Bahr shared her own stats, among them the fact that customers are hiring digital consultants “in droves.” For partners, ceding that business will cost them.

“For every dollar a company spends on a digital strategy, it brings $7 in infrastructure upsell,” she said. “Now we have everybody’s attention.”{ad}

As to capturing that revenue, it’s as much about whom marketing pros help sell to as about what they sell. Bahr and Dedicoat shifted the advice for partners to target line-of-business executives, instead advising partners to be conduits between LOB and IT teams.

“Be the bridge,” she said. “The line of business wants apps that run flawlessly and at speed. IT wants to support that, securely.”

Her message is that Cisco is powering that with customer-in selling and its revamped ACES (Accelerating Cisco Ecosystem Sales)  program. Bahr said the most profitable partners are developing expertise in one or two key verticals; for those needing help, she says SalesConnect provides Partner Guides with real success stories — including business outcomes, typical buying events and buyer profiles.

Overall, the marketing professionals at the event were impressed with the enablement and collateral provided to support vertical specializations.

Bahr closed by calling on the crowd to reinvent partnering. While reiterating Cisco’s commitment to VARs, she says support will increase for the multiparter and IT service provider channel.

“I want to say thank you for loyalty, partnership, creativity and for always pushing us,” she said.

Cisco closed day one of Marketing Velocity 2017 with awards for top global partners’ marketing campaigns. The U.S. winner was OneNeck IT solutions for its Cisco Digitization Campaign. Dimension Data took home Global Strategic Partner honors for its Connected Conservation venture.

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