As the year winds down, the EDGE360 team is reaching out to our editorial contributors to gauge the important lessons from 2021 across the Cisco ecosystem. After 2020, it quickly became apparent that the Cisco partners would continue to see an impact from the global pandemic, but in a way that was less reactionary and more measured. In fact, there were many bright spots along the way and innovative approaches to support Cisco partners as they continued to build and grow their businesses.
The EDGE360 editorial team recently sat down with two experts behind the TD SYNNEX EDGE Programs: Carissa Scholl, Manager, Cisco Enablement Programs at TD SYNNEX and Shawn Motley, Director, Cisco Product Business Management at TD SYNNEX to get their take on how the year has unfolded.
EDGE360 Editors: How would you define 2021 for Cisco partners and the Cisco ecosystem?
Shawn Motley: There were ups and downs throughout the year, which is to be expected, but there were definitely bright spots along the way. Coming out of 2020, we started to get used to the remote world and gain an understanding of what a remote or hybrid world would look like. Instead of organizations scrambling to make it happen, everyone was more prepared in 2021 as they became more used to the technology requirements. That was a bright spot. Similarly, as the supply chain faced serious issues, and hardware and products were being held up, it opened the door to more software and services business opportunities, changing how partners sell.
Carissa Scholl: Along with those bright spots that Shawn mentioned, we also had opportunities to innovate, especially with our EDGE programs. We had to solve problems that we had never seen before. Leveraging tools we had developed and navigating the complexities of the environment that we were in, we found new ways to connect with our partners. This included everything from organizing virtual events to leveraging virtual reality technology platforms and Oculus Quest for Business headsets to help our partners get their hands on the technology, virtually, and learn it.
Listen as Carissa explains new VR training capabilities for EDGE partners:
EDGE360 Editors: How have the EDGE Partner Programs evolved in this past year?
Motley: During this past year, we had to address many of the partner challenges that we also experienced as an organization – everything from not being able to meet in-person to finding new ways to learn the technology and sell in new and different ways. We have developed lots of new and different capabilities that we have added into the programs, which our partners are really excited about because it extends their capabilities and helps them be more successful.
Listen as Shawn Motley explains new capabilities built into the EDGE Partner Programs:
Scholl: We are also seeing a lot of opportunities for our partners to sell across architectures, so from a training perspective we believe it is important to educate partners in areas like secure collaboration, secure data center, secure networking and find ways to layer in IoT opportunities. We also have incorporated ways to support our partners through the entire sales cycle. From MINT, a measured installment of the network, to layered professional services from presale to post sales, we can help partners identify how to get the most from their Cisco relationship. While we’ve been doing this for a long time, I think we’ll start to see channel specializations, certifications, and authorizations map more closely to that cross-architecture selling, instead of being in traditional silos.
EDGE360 Editors: Tell us a bit about how you work together with Cisco to make EDGE partners successful?
That’s a great question. We work very closely together. There is a dedicated Cisco team that is assigned to our business to help us stay connected to the Cisco world and offer us more resources. We get to bounce ideas off each other when developing plans to help our partners reach their goals, and we brainstorm how we can help an EDGE partner grow faster. Having that insight at our fingertips helps us make recommendations because the Cisco team has visibility into any changes that might be happening. Similarly, we have visibility into what partners are asking and can quickly identify how they can increase their success when selling Cisco. At the end of the day, we know we are all in this together – the more successful an EDGE partner is, the more successful we are as a team. It’s a really strong team.