“They have the budget and creating a digital impact is also often a strategic imperative.”
By 2020, IDC expects line-of-business technology spending to be nearly equal to that of the IT organisation.
Vicki Batka, Vice President of Partner Organisation APJ, Cisco
Specifically, innovation accelerators have put line-of-business units in the frontline of the digital transformation.
“For example,” Bahr explained. “If you’re the marketing department, you need to know more about your customers and need to extract data out of the wireless network to know more.
“If you’re in HR you need to know how you can communicate with your employees more effectively using video in a real-time manner.
“We’re trying to connect the digital impact to the line-of-business buyer because we think that our partners - who are well positioned within convergence - can go in and have a different conversation and create a digital outcome.”
For Bahr, this new breed of IT buyers have the budget and influence to matter for partners.
“But the secret sauce is when you go back to IT and inform them about what the line-of-business leaders are doing,” Bahr said. “IT departments are just trying to keep up with the onslaught of applications and the quest for digital capabilities, which means the partner can play an important role in the middle.”
To assist the channel in digging out new buyers with new IT budgets, Cisco has created industry-focused training for partners, designed to provide specialised knowledge and expertise, aligned to particular sectors.
“We build horizontal technology solutions which can be applied to line-of-business buyers and verticals,” Bahr said.
“We’ve built industry specific training, which includes the profile of the buyer and how technologies can create an outcome, alongside details of buying indicators and the taxonomy.
“If you can’t speak the language, you’re not going to have credibility.”
In taking the role as the horizontal supplier of technology, Bahr advised partners to assess customer bases to uncover hidden vertical capabilities.
“We encourage our partners to look at their install base because they might have 30 per cent of business in retail, or 25 per cent in healthcare or 60 per cent in manufacturing,” Bahr said. “So go where your business already is and then try and adapt.”
But even when partners learn the language of industry, and recognise the key decision-makers within it, Bahr said that’s still not enough to secure the deal.
“Partners must link up with an applications provider that has written an application specific to that market,” Bahr added.
Today, more than 80 per cent of Cisco product and service revenues go through an ecosystem of resellers, distributors, service providers, systems integrators, cloud service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs).
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