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At the start of 2020, no one could have predicted how quickly the world would change. The start of the new decade was one filled with hope, but after being hit with a global pandemic, many are reeling with the impact. Each new phase of the pandemic brings new challenges. As the Cisco partner organization faces each of these phases, there is an opportunity to embrace change and reimagine a new future.

Recently, Cisco Live was held virtually. It was unexpected, but attendance was one of the highest rates of new attendees compared to years past. “When we stood together at partner summit last year, I don’t think any of us could image the world we’ve had thus far,” John Moses, VP of Cisco’s Partner Organization said during a presentation. “It has changed how we live in our communities, run our businesses, and lead our lives. Yet, it has placed us on an expedited path of transformation.”

Organizations across the globe saw how quickly they needed to transform their IT infrastructure to accommodate a new remote workforce. From ensuring everyone had a device, to enabling connections and access to networks, to implementing collaboration tools, IT departments were scrambling.

Oliver Tuszik, who is responsible for managing and supporting over 60,000 global partners as the SVP for Cisco’s Global Partner organization, joined Moses in the presentation and agreed that times are unprecedented. He highlighted three phases along this journey where Cisco and partners will need to work together to help customers innovate and accelerate change.

Phase 1: High Demand for IT
At the start of the pandemic, there was a high demand for IT and connectivity. Webex was in top demand as businesses and organizations needed to quickly shift to a remote environment, yet still needed to connect and collaborate. Partners were busy helping customers quickly access the tools and solutions they needed, and Cisco created offers to ease the burden on both users and partners alike.

Phase 2: Economic Slowdown
As expected, the impact of the pandemic has resulted in an economic slowdown like no other, with the highest rates of unemployment since the Great Depression and businesses of all sizes impacted. “We need to stay very close to manage this phase together,” Tuszik explained. “It is a time to reflect and reimagine.” With the basic needs for many organizations put in place in the initial phase, this stage will give rise to innovation. It is time to rethink how IT solutions are implemented. Nearly every industry is at a point where they are reconsidering how they interact and deliver and how IT can help them better engage.

Phase 3: Back to Growth: A New Normal
With every restructuring and change, a new normal emerges. “The new normal will require more IT and there will be higher demands,” Tuszik predicted. In this new normal, he said that we’ll see a greater demand for secure connections, “from anywhere, to anywhere.” This will have an impact on the home office, as well as Webex and collaboration tools across remote offices. Additionally, anything “as-a-service” will be critical to business operations as cloud and virtualization become a top IT priority for 2020. Finally, Tuszik predicted that digitization will impact sales and transactions, as the traditional sales model shifts post-pandemic.

While the word is significantly changing, Tuszik promises that the Cisco partner strategy is staying the same with a strong focus on helping partners stay profitable and successful. “Your profitability remains our number one priority,” he said. “We will continue to invest jointly to go through these different phases.”