Find Your Edge at Cisco Partner Summit: Insights from Channel Leader Oliver Tuszik Previous item Own Your Edge: Trends and... Next item Meet the People Behind a...

The Cisco Partner Summit is taking place next week in Las Vegas, NV and will bring together Cisco partners to explore the opportunities, technologies, and trends influencing the IT channel. Recently, Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s channel leader, who oversees more than 60,000 global partners spoke with CRN about the upcoming conference and what partners can expect.

At this year’s event, partners will have access to many educational tracks and sessions that focus on business transformation that is driven by consumer demands, lifestyle initiatives, and a higher expectation for customer experience. Cisco is bringing the software and technology to channel partners that align with this changing digital world. Tuszik discussed this as well as other topics including DevNet, solution building, and making partners stand out from the crowd.

His thoughts from the interview are below:

What is the main theme of this year’s Partner Summit?

The important thing that we want to show to partners is that we have technology you can sell now, but also, that we are leading when it comes to AI, machine learning, and managed services. From my side, I want to start with what we were talking about last year — the perform and transform theme. We will revisit it, show what we did on the perform side and how we helped partners with different tool improvements, made (enterprise agreements) easier, and so on. We’re also going to be telling (partners) what we are planning to do.

For me, I’m calling it, “Own Your Edge.” When you look at the Cisco point of view and the partner view, they fit perfectly together here. From the Cisco point of view, we are talking about getting into new markets, and selling solutions and use cases, but we realize this is a much more complex sale and deliver process than before. And we aren’t just talking about selling it, we are talking about the full lifecycle more and more. It’s about thinking how to create the highest value with a product or solution offering for the end customer and how can you ensure that once they are into a new refresh cycle, that they are betting on Cisco again, that they renew and expand.

How can partners find their edge?

To do this, you need to add something on top of our solutions. Just to be very clear, our products are not self-selling, not sell-installing, and not self-value creating. It’s not a package you put into a room that unfolds automatically and the value comes out.

The future of IT is getting more and integrated and complex — this is really the reason why we are moving into the cloud and are coming up with new offerings. But to be clear, without a partner who creates something unique on top, the value won’t come out. It used to be about delivering on time and doing a simple installation, and now it’s about more because not only do you have to implement a product, but a use case. They have the capability to create something that makes them special, something unique and something that is their edge. This is important for us because it helps us get into completely new markets and helps us create a much higher value and ensure the value is throughout the entire lifecycle.  This is something Cisco can’t do on its own.

Why is it so Important that partners “own their edge,” or find what makes them unique?

It’s simple. When you look at partners, they need to always find a way to differentiate from the competition and how to create value, and with this value, some stickiness and margin. If you’re one of 20 partners that can ship a (Catalyst 9000) box, your chance that the customer wants to pay a fortune for that is pretty low and you won’t make any margin. If you create a solution on top of a Cat9K or on top of DNA Center which might be only some small implementation help or application, you are capable of creating a clear value that customers are ready to pay for that turns into a long-term, predictable revenue stream.

My main message to partners is to understand your edge, develop your edge, and deliver what makes you unique.

I’ve been in this situation when I was partner. You realize over time that your value is going down every quarter. Selling a 100-percent-ready product, your chance to build on that is pretty small and your chance to protect that goes to zero. So, we want partners that are unique and have differentiation, those that have built something that makes them special. They might have completely different assets — we have a partner who has the strongest service capacity in Hungary. There’s a partner that understands contact centers really well, and another that understands the pharmaceutical industry, so each of them might have a specialization they can utilize. We might, over time, have partners that don’t sell any Cisco at all — like consulting companies that might develop something on top of Cisco, but don’t have any interest in selling a switch or a router.

Read the full interview on CRN and stay tuned on EDGE360 for more coverage of the Cisco Partner Summit and insights from channel leaders.