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Cisco held a conference call for press and analysts last week to discuss changes and evolvements in the vendor’s Partner Experience Platform (PXP) and PX and CX Cloud, while also highlighting some key areas where partners are establishing growth.
On the call was SVP of global partner sales Oliver Tuszik, VP of partner performance Jose van Dijk and SVP of customer and partner experience engineering Tony Colon, who each shared their insights into the partner landscape at Cisco and the company’s key areas of focus and improvement moving forward.
That includes new functionalities in the PXP such as AI-infused sales and planning tools for partners and the planned full launch of PX Cloud – a platform which provides partners with information and insights about their customers.
Here are the three main areas Cisco’s channel bosses chose to focus on during the press and analyst roundtable event…
Partner influence growing
Sharing updates on how Cisco’s partners were performing, Tuszik said the company’s partners are “leading the shift to software” and are continuing to grow their own recurring revenue in the process.
“The indirect partner share keeps growing. Where people say it’s going more direct, more digital, we are seeing fact-based bookings where our indirect sales via our partners are getting an even bigger share,” he said.
Tuszik pointed to the rise in partners selling more adoption services and increasing renewals rates, citing research from the company which found those figures had risen by 33 per cent and 40 per cent year-on-year respectively.
He also claimed distribution has contributed more than 50 per cent to Cisco’s growth since FY2014 – admitting this figure had “surprised” him.
“Routes to market are the most important expansion we need to drive right now,” Tuszik added.
“Customers want to reduce complexity. They no longer want to build or manage something on their own, they want somebody to deliver it as a service.”
Cisco launched PXP a year ago as part of its drive to create a simplified partner programme which Tuszik said at the time would “serve partners in a more flexible and agile way than ever before”.
Providing an update on the progress of PXP, Van Dijk said Cisco is targeting retiring “50 per cent” of the 180 tools partners used prior to PXP’s launch, with the current figure standing at “around 32 per cent”.
She announced several developments to PXP – the first of which is the introduction of a feature called Clair (customer lens for actionable insights and recommendations), which uses “ML and AI developed in house by Cisco” and is “based on 10 years of customer data and customer buying habits”.
Van Dijk claimed the tool would help partners to target the best opportunities by “segments, renewal, enterprise categories and sales plays” as just a few examples, and announced that it will become available for all partners in the second half of this year.
Also being introduced is an Integrated Partner Plan (IPP) which Van Dijk described as “a globally consistent plan” which would create “better alignment between the Cisco partner teams as well as the partner executives”.
“We are going to make sure that there is ongoing performance rankings or smart goals and KPIs that leverage all of the data that we have in PXP,” she added.
Thirdly, Cisco have introduced new capabilities in its sales opportunities segment – formerly known as renewals – which “lets partners see what the top line opportunities are, across all the different sales margins, as well as the performance on self-service metrics”.
“That of course, immediately impacts rebates and goes straight into the bottom line of the partners. We’ve added booking benchmarking information so partners can understand how they’re performing, relative to the peer group,” Van Dijk explained.
“And then, of course, we’re adding a new programme and new metric benchmarking information to provide a better context for prioritisation and decision making for our partners as well.”
And finally, Cisco has expanded PXP’s collaboration features through Partner Connect – which matches partners together “to help uncover and develop new buying centres and create valuable connections”.
PX Cloud and CX Cloud
Cisco also provided a demo for its PX Cloud, which is currently operating under limited availability but is set to become available for all partners “around the time” of Partner Summit.
“The partner experience platform is a full-fledged house, and there’s multiple tenants within that house,” Colon explained.
“And so, what we have in one of those tenants, or one of those floors, is something that we call the partner experience cloud. This is where customers get access to the telemetry data at its core.”
The PX Cloud provides partners with access to key information about their Cisco customers, which Colon claimed would provide “the full feedback on what is relevant to them”.
Key features of the PX Cloud includes a single dashboard which “tracks offer engagement, customer portfolios and progress” and provides an “enhanced contract view to enable partners to identify expiring contracts and asset details”.
Cisco also claims the PX Cloud will “enable partners to quickly create targeted offers for specific customers” as well as “receive customer interests and feedback details”.
Meanwhile, the customer experience (CX) Cloud is the “close relative” of the PX Cloud and allows the customers of partners to view “telemetry data, assets, contracts and licences”.