There is no doubt that one of the most popular phrases for Cisco partners in 2022 was ‘customer experience’ (CX). As the world has changed, so have customers, and embracing their new expectations is essential for success. To review the past year and look ahead, EDGE360 recently sat down with Joe Vlajcic, Director of Customer Experience at TD SYNNEX. He shared some insight into the 2022 trends that most impacted partners and what we can expect to see in 2023.
Looking Back at 2022 Trends
As with the last couple of years, 2022 was full of change. For partners, this included welcoming new products, handling supply chain issues, and developing new competencies. Most importantly, partners had to adjust tactics and approaches to improve the customer experience. Despite it all, Vlajcic noted how partners rose to the challenge, adapting to trends and rolling out amazing capabilities. “We’ve seen resellers transform themselves into CX organizations, providing great value for Cisco software and Enterprise agreements,” he said.
The biggest trend impacting partners in 2022 according to Vlajcic was software becoming the dominant force in Cisco resellers’ businesses. While supply chain problems have plagued partners over the past year, the Cisco shift-to-software creates new opportunities for partners and customers…and new challenges.
While the focus on software has been an overall positive for partners, it has caused many to have to adjust and rethink their priorities. Cisco partners who designed their organizations around CapEx projects were hit with tough questions this year as customers shifted to an OpEx outlook. Vlajcic explained that “customers came out of the pandemic looking to refresh their environments, but in a way that makes scaling up or down easier.” They wanted to know how partners add value to SaaS sales and what services they could provide for cloud-centric environments.
Looking Ahead to 2023
As Vlajcic looks ahead to 2023 and beyond, he expects much of the same trends from 2022 to carry over and continue to accelerate. “Right now, a lot of partners are getting ‘back to basics’ with deployments, upgrades, and integrations, all the traditional VAR things to modernize infrastructure.” Says Vlajcic. “But I think this is a temporary reprieve on the hardware side. Don’t lose sight of the annuities in the background – the equipment you’re putting in today will go through a renewal (everything renews with Cisco!) in a few years, and you need to have a reason for the customer to keep that renewal to you.”
Partners investing in software-focused value adds – adoption, asset management, integration, customization, and more – are starting to find successes in the market. Vlajcic said, “Fortunately, we have some incredible partners adapting to these trends and rolling out some amazing capabilities. Next-Generation Cisco partners look a lot more like brokerages than hardware shops and that’s great news for customers looking to get the most out of their Cisco investment. We’ve consistently seen customers flock to partners who can do proper ‘care and feeding’ of Cisco SaaS – we had a partner beat out a National, direct reseller for a $50M Enterprise Agreement last year because they had a more credible customer success plan.”
As we prepare for the next year, it’s important to remember that TD SYNNEX can provide partners with the resources and tools to find success. Although change is inevitable, nothing has to be done alone. In 2023, Cisco will continue to focus on the CX space through new specializations, rebates, and ongoing support. TD SYNNEX continues to meet Cisco where they want to go, growing the CX team to provide even more resources on software, LOA, Enterprise Agreement, DevNet, and Cisco Lifestyle Management. “We work very closely with Cisco to align to their bleeding edge so our partners can lead the market!” Vlajcic said.