Cisco to polish partner processes

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Cisco resellers need to lift their game around business processes to get better, more consistent results for their customers, the vendor's managing director, Ross Fowler, has said.

Cisco resellers need to lift their game around business processes to get better, more consistent results for their customers, the vendor's local boss Ross Fowler, has said.

Fowler, Cisco managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told CRN at this week's Cisco Networkers conference that many reseller partners had plenty of skills but often could not deliver their expertise in a consistent way.

"There's a lot of skills in the industry. My concern is there is a shortage of process in the industry," he said.

Fowler said partners would increasingly be involved in many-pronged, complex deals and needed efficient processes to ensure consistency in different implementations. Such consistency would boost customer confidence, he said.

Cisco had been shifting its focus towards more advanced technologies such as IP communications. As that happened, partner deals got more complicated but Cisco also increasingly relied on its partners, he said.

"A CallManager implementation, when you look at the server and networking and devices, it's a complex thing to do. It requires a lot of configuring," Fowler said.

"I'm not confident our partners have the right end-to-end life cycle processes to ensure consistent quality."

Cisco was looking at boosting partner skills in the business process area over the next 12 months. The vendor wanted partners to adopt more "end-to-end life cycle processes", Fowler said.

NetImpact studies sponsored by Cisco had proven that organisations bought IT to improve productivity -- not for the technology itself. Process, applications and the network must work together to achieve greater productivity in customer businesses, he said.

"Cisco is a networking vendor and can't supply all three, so partnering is important. Networking is becoming more pervasive but we're not in business processes and we're not in IT applications," he said.

Cisco itself was eyeing new relationships with application vendors such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. The aim was to bundle Cisco networking hardware and other technologies with applications and business processes for partners to sell, Fowler said.

"And my belief is those applications are going to be very verticalised," he said.

Verticals such as hospitality, healthcare and manufacturing were likely specialities. Such bundles would hopefully differentiate Cisco and its partners from their hardware rivals, he suggested.

Other partner issues facing Cisco included coverage, which was the "number one" partner issue, Fowler said.

"I'm concerned, particularly, that we don't have coverage across the major metropolitan areas to the extent I would like and the really low end of the SMB market," he said.

The commercial and high end space had a small number of resellers and partners and was managing fine. However, in the low-end and regional sectors, it was about having the right breadth of partners, Fowler said.

Cisco had restructured its commercial sales force over the last 12 months, introducing two territory account managers to work closely with partners in the northern and southern regions of Australia, he said.

The vendor had launched a value incentive program around "advanced technologies" such as IP communications and other new programs for the channel were coming, he said.

Fleur Doidge attended the Networkers forum on the Gold Coast as a guest of Cisco Systems.
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