“They converge disparate technologies and make them available through a connected network.”
Despite a clear definition for digital transformation lacking however, end-user appetite is growing across Australia and New Zealand, driven by a boardroom desire to leverage new technologies to innovate both internally and externally.
But partners are growing tired of identical vendor marketing rhetoric, rhetoric that talks in digital generalities and delivers very little in terms of clear-cut routes to future progression.
And while providers take comfort in aligning with channel-friendly vendors, the time for adulation is over. Today, partners value vendor roadmaps and direction more than ever.
“We have five strategic routes to market through the channel,” Bahr explained.
Speaking to ARN, Bahr said the new-look Cisco channel is made up of traditional resale, multi-partnering, IT service providers, Internet of Things specialists and a cloud marketplace.
Outlined as five paths to profitability for partners, Bahr - who was quick to stress the continued importance of traditional resale players - explained the value of creating a multi-partner environment within the Cisco ecosystem.
Tapping into the collaborative wave taking over the channel, Bahr said win rate improves when partners work together, advocating the value of like-minded providers creating alliances within the wider network.
“It was naturally slow in the beginning but multi-partner is the second fastest growing part of our channel,” Bahr said. “It’s incrementally drove over US$1.1 billion during the past 12 months.”
But as an experienced channel veteran, Bahr acknowledged switching to a collaborative mindset isn’t as instinctive for traditional aspects of the industry.
“Change is always hard and especially if you have been wildly successful and we have been with our partner community for more than two decades,” Bahr said.
“But we realise this is the first step down the path of expanding value, providing an outcome and having an impact on the customer.”
Alongside the rise of managed service providers, IoT-focused specialists are emerging to build tailored solutions for line-of-business leaders, coupled with born-in-the-cloud providers capitalising on virtualised routers, security and firewalls - all sitting within a cloud marketplace.
Collectively, it paints a very different picture of what it means to be a Cisco partner in 2017.
And that’s because, quite simply, the buyer has changed.
Technology spending funded by non-IT business units will reach US$609 billion in 2017, as new influencers of IT emerge across the enterprise.
Representing an increase of 5.9 per cent over 2016, IDC research findings point to a changing buying landscape for the channel, one which sees line-of-business leaders gain greater control of the technology buying process.
“Our partners are beginning to understand the opportunity to sell not just to IT,” Bahr said. “We’ve had a long and wonderful history of selling to the IT department but they’re also moving into the line-of-business buyers.
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