Cisco Plays Cupid for VARsBy Sara Driscoll | Print
Helping partners to collaborate is key to Cisco's growth strategy, and the vendor has unveiled its portal for helping partners connect with each other.
Speed dating for channel partners is how Cisco has described its new partner-to-partner collaboration tool.
Launched at the vendor’s Partner Summit in Honolulu, the Cisco Partner Exchange is aimed at helping partners find and connect with each other, with the outcome being collaboration on deals.
Andrew Sage, vice president of worldwide channel marketing at Cisco, said the idea is that Cisco does not get too deeply involved, but that it increases the chances of collaboration being successful. Open to all 8,500 of its certified partners, the tool has three elements to it, Sage said.
Partners first have to be found, so a VAR on the portal would fill out a profile that includes its focus areas and what it is looking for in a potential partner. Second, the VAR would enter what it needs, be it a service or a partner in a certain geography, and finally the portal would also provide information such as best practices and contract guidance.
"Partner-to-partner collaboration is not easy and in some ways it’s not natural, but it will be necessary for the future," Sage said.
Tim Hebert, CEO of VAR Atrion, is also chairman of 1nservice, an organization designed to help partners come together. He said the marketplace is demanding this type of partner-to-partner collaboration. "Our end users are looking for us to be general contractors," he said. "The technology is now so complex that it is impossible to be an expert at everything."
This is why his company joined 1nservice eight years ago. "It profiles its members very thoroughly and creates a trust between them," he said.
However, Hebert said there are challenges with partner-to-partner collaboration that still have yet to be overcome.
Vendors need to make selling together easier at a transactional level, and VARs must embrace the spirit of collaboration, he said.
"Collaborating is a mindset, it’s not about tools. A fool with a tool is a still a fool. Collaboration is about building a relationship and maintaining that for the long term, not just a one-off deal."
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