Driving Transformation

Business man in blue grey suit using digital pen working with digital virtual screen business concept of marketing strategy plan

Just prior to the Manchester bombing Comms Business Magazine’s Ian Hunter met up with Cisco’s Angela Whitty, Managing Director of Partner Organisation and CTO, Alison Vincent last month to find out how the company was driving digital transformations with their channel partners.

At their Partner Summit in San Diego last March Cisco, noting that digitisation is opening up a $2.1 trillion global market opportunity by 2019, unveiled Digital Network Architecture (DNA) to accelerate customer digital transformation.

According to Cisco, the path to digitisation requires a digital network that evolves beyond just connectivity and that this new network will enable business innovation, generate insights and create customer experiences. It will also reduce cost and complexity with new orchestration and automation capabilities, while helping protect the business with an architecture designed for security.
Angela Whitty says that Cisco has always been a channel company.

Angela Whitty, Managing Director of Partner Organisation and CTO

Angela Whitty, Managing Director of Partner Organisation and CTO

“Digital Transformation is an evolution and we are already on that journey that starts with the requirement capture; network, infrastructure, consultancy and sales. The Cisco platform is about connecting the data with the business processes.
Our advantage in this market is that we have always been focussed on partners with some 4,000 partners in the UK and 33,000 throughout EMEA.

In the UK, Cisco has four distributors including Tech Data/Avnet, Comstor and Ingram.
Partners want Cisco to be more visible and talk directly to them and here we have a mentoring program and around 60 larger, one tier partners that work closely with us but still through distributors.”

How do Cisco enable partners?

Whitty says, “Cisco is good at seeing where the market is going; by creating a technology and market segment based conversation we can then use our programs to be profitable.

Cisco can paint the pictures and has a five-pronged strategy for innovation;
• Partners and channels
• Build the solutions ourselves
• Acquisition
• Invest as a VC
• Co-create with partners.

Where is UCaaS going today?

“UCaaS originally met a niche and that still holds true today. Our market is a service provider/partner driven Hosted Collaboration (HCS) offering that can be ‘bespoked’ and partner hosted – it comes down to an issue of scale. And not just large partners – some are reselling other partner versions of a hosted HCS and this is great for the SME and the SME resellers to be able to provide as a utility/per user model.”

Alison Vincent

Alison Vincent

Internet of Things

Cisco, a recent acquirer of Jasper, has a huge investment going on in everything IoT (see elsewhere in this issue our report on IoT World Forum) and Whitty points me to CityVerve, the Smart City project in Manchester.
CityVerve aims to bring together the brightest minds and pioneering uses of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to redefine ‘smart’ in the context of a living, working city.

The ambition is to build and deliver a smarter, more connected Manchester, creating a city that uses technology to meet the complex needs of its people.

Alongside BT, Cisco is one of 21 organisations behind a project that challenges you to imagine a Manchester of endless possibilities: from new business and jobs to better healthcare and transport; safer streets; and more engaged and empowered citizens.
In the wake of recent events it sounds even more profound today to repeat the CityVerve mantra that a city is brought to life by the people that live, work and play at the heart of it. ‘This project isn’t really about streets, buildings or buses. Nor is it just about giving cutting edge connectivity to sensors and devices. It isn’t about ‘things’ at all, it’s about people’. CityVerve aims to create a blueprint for smart cities worldwide.
Whitty says that partners will have their own IoT practices and will look for verticals they can successfully work in.

“This is scalable and there is nothing to stop a smaller reseller, say developing their own ‘Smart Town’ solutions with Meraki (A 2012 Cisco Acquisition) based Wi-Fi networks.”

Looking ahead to the 2017 Cisco partner event in Dallas this November, what should the channel expect in the way of announcements?
Whitty and CTO Alison Vincent are not really forthcoming on this subject and point me in a direction with
just three words; Simplicity, Automation and Secure. We’ll find out more I’m sure once Cisco holds its own internal sales conference in Las Vegas this August.