Posts tagged ‘SMB’

Back to the Future

Cisco’s Partner-Led SMB Model Promises New Customer and Partner Value

Beth Vanni – Vice President, Amazon Consulting

Whenever Cisco talks about new investments in partnering programs or support, it’s always a déjà vu experience for me. They invest so much already and have so many sales and marketing tools for partners, it’s a bit of a brain teaser to remember what’s new. But, there are a few gems of support announced in their enhanced SMB Partner-Led sales strategy that remind me of the infamous “flux capacitor” scene from the movie Back to the Future.

Andrew Sage, the company’s newly promoted VP of Worldwide Partner-Led Sales, brings a great legacy to his new position. He’s been studying how to make Cisco successful with small (really, truly small <100 user) companies for several years. That’s made him a bit akin to Back to the Future’s Doc Brown within Cisco. He’s pioneered new coverage models (Road Warrior), new product sets (Small Business Communication System) and a new way to look at the value of the channel in owning SMB customer relationships within his legacy enterprise-selling organization. Having at one time been a part of the SMB market development team at Cisco, I know personally that’s a tough job.

But, there are two things Cisco announced that could be that secret sauce, their flux capacitor (the device that made time travel in a Delorean possible) in this Partner-Led model.  The first is their plans to build a global partner-led marketing engine. Now, they’ve built some great marketing assets and gotten very grass-roots in the past with their larger VARs and Service Providers on marketing campaigns and automation (for example the Velocity conference). If they can bring that level of lead qualification and passing and field marketing assistance to the more regional partners catering to SMB, that will be a big deal.  

The second thing we think is a Cisco game-changer in SMB is their newly announced Technology Solutions Network. This is a team of inside sales engineers uniquely focused on SMB product sets and the SMB-focused partner. The ability for this team to be highly accessible (albeit on the phone) to help partners’ sales engineers with quotes, architectures and customer presentations could be huge. Many other vendors have tried this, most often in the field. Cisco will start with 300 partners who will have access to this team – that focused approach will be good. But, Cisco’s ability to help prepare partner for the all important prospecting proof-of-concept and pre-sales work will be the lynch-pin of them realizing the returns they want in this partner-led approach.

So, what’s new about SMB partnering at Cisco? The unique focus on enabling partners to do most of the pre-sales and prospecting work, in line with their larger peers. A fire-in-the-belly SMB-centric leader with a strong track record of success. An enhanced set of investments in people, automation and new economic incentives for partners to win deals with/for Cisco in SMB. And, a Wall Street community who’s watching this market-leader and their big-bet investments very closely these days.   

Doc Brown says to Marty McFly when prompted to back up the Delorean in order to accelerate to 88 mph before jumping to time travel, “Roads? We don’t need roads where we’re going!” Cisco’s got an unbelievable set of assets, partnering DNA and passion to take their SMB success to the next level. Their partners’ belief and trust that Cisco can cut through its own complexity and focus outside their enterprise investments to make this a reality is perhaps the networking giant’s real flux capacitor.


September 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment

Can’t Live with ‘Em, Can’t Live Without ‘Em:

Vendor/Partner Cloud Engagement Models Emerge

by Beth Vanni, Vice President

With both vendors and channel partners jumping on the bandwagon to evolve their services sales and delivery models to reflect a more holistic support offering to the customer, cloud solutions continue to come into the limelight.  And, despite the industry FUD about solution provider disintermediation in the cloud era, current research indicates vendors will continue their dependency on solution providers for customer management around cloud solutions.

The results of our 2011 State of Partnering Study reinforce the importance of close sales and support coordination between vendors and solution providers in promoting both public, private and hybrid cloud solutions in today’s market.  With input from 100 unique vendors, this year’s study results indicate maturing cloud delivery models among the IT vendor community, and expectation for partner involvement are coming into focus. (more…)

March 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

HP Invests to Jumpstart SMB Marketshare Growth

HP Leverages Massive Infrastructure, Simplicity and Marketing Funds to Attract SMB Resellers

By Beth Vanni, Vice President

Few technology vendors (OK, less than a dozen) have a portfolio that can truly span the needs of most end-users with < 500 employees. HP is clearly one of those companies. And given its orientation to doing business through indirect channels, HP has always been a leader in consumer and small business with its printers, multi-function devices, laptops, and low-end servers. But, the global computing giant seems to have awakened in the last 2-3 years relative to the resources it applies to being the clear winner in the SMB market, a marketshare opportunity it sizes at $46 billion in the U.S. alone.

Maybe it’s because the economy has been bad, and its legacy enterprise customers have stalled spending. Maybe it’s because Cisco has gotten uniquely focused on this market, especially the <100 small business segment of SMB. Or, maybe it’s just because the company continually finds ways to reinvent itself (no pun intended) and refocus to capitalize on market inflections. In any scenario, as it prepares for its Partner Summit event later this month, HP has come out with both guns blazin’ in its focus on the SMB segment with a combination of collaborative communication, transaction automation and incentives to fire up the engines of its SMB-focused channel partners. (more…)

March 2, 2011 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

VMware Continues to Fund its Partners’ Journey to the Cloud

New Enablement, Specializations and Rewards Programs Announced

by Beth Vanni, Vice President

When it comes to partner programs focused on engaging cloud-savvy solution providers, few companies have been as committed as VMware.  Nowhere was this more evident than during the partner program breakout session at this year’s Partner Exchange event, held last week in Orlando. This session, held during lunch, was still packed with partners, all interested in learning how VMware would be enhancing its VMware Partner Network programs to offer them further support.

New rewards to individual solution provider sales reps, market-focused specializations and increased demand generation marketing support were all addressed. But, there was a unique focus on the company’s new partner Specializations.  In fact, Senior Director Global Partner Strategy & Solutions, Colleen Kapase, was quoted as saying: “Specializations is where you’ll want to be to get access to a lot of resources from us.” (more…)

February 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

Cisco’s Video Vision: Will Partner Competency be as Pervasive as the Technology?

By Beth Vanni – Director, Market Intelligence

It’s arguably the sexiest part of Cisco’s classic networking infrastructure  —  collaboration software and video conferencing for every workspace.  It makes the power of the network very visible, literally. To this technology laggard, these products represent the ultimate “killer app” for IT communications.  The days of George Jetson have arrived! (more…)

November 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

Cisco Small Business Partner Program Announcements

By Diane Krakora, CEO

Also See: Channel Insider

December 1, 2009 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

The Texas Titans Gang Up: Perot Systems and Dell Make Enterprise Services Play – Late to the Game

bvanni-printFor me, it’s a pretty simple debrief.  Dell has been increasingly trying to gain relevance in the enterprise, with both servers, storage and services.

They had no real comparable services arm to compete with EDS/HP or IBM G.S.   They are worried about getting further commoditized at the device/PC level and about not having an offsetting high margin services play.   They’re smart enough to know they can only streamline their cost structure so low and become further efficient at commodity PCs as a sustainable business strategy for so long.   They also were last to the game with a meaningful outsourcing services offer.   Lastly, they also needed vertical industry practices to gain more business user relevance (and stop selling on price & feature/function to the IT Director).   So, Perot brings them all of those things, with a stated focus and successful history in a couple of big verticals (gov’t. and healthcare).

It just seems to me like Dell paid a HUGE price for this (60%+ premium over current stock value).   But the clock was ticking.


September 23, 2009 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

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