Today kicked off day one of the 2013 Cisco Partner Summit. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to attend and to be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure what I was in for. I've attended numerous partner virtual team events in the past and I’m no stranger to Cisco partner facing events, but this event in particular allowed me to be an audience member to the likes of John Chambers, Bruce Klein, and Edison Peres. I've said numerous times, listening to someone’s message in his or her own environment is the most compelling way to receive it, and I wasn't disappointed. The Cisco team clearly articulated their vision for tomorrow’s technology; everything from spelling out various growth opportunities for partners as well as some very compelling data points and examples of real-world usages for the “Internet of Everything” vision.
The Cisco team demonstrated a clear understanding of the challenges that the partner community faces today, tomorrow and what they will face moving forward into the years ahead. Partner’s capabilities will have to evolve over the next several years and we got a good look at the ideal partner of the future. This ideal partner will need to not only be the partner that's flipping widgets for their customers, they'll need to provide professional services, be fluent in public and private cloud offerings, managed services, and on-premises solutions. Partners evolving will prove to be a delicate balancing act of shifting business focus, becoming more agile and interacting with our customers in a fanatical fashion!
The messaging at the Partner Summit was so broad brush, it's hard to hone in on any one particular piece of the message. Having a particular focus on Mobility, I did catch several times throughout the kickoff many side-long references into technology that is near and dear to my heart including showing off wireless soil sensors, a gain in the Enterprise WLAN market share, and even a ThinkSmart demo to show off some real-world ways that analytics are working today to help better our day-to-day activities, whether that be retail experience to parking our cars. Machine to machine communications are helping us generate data that makes our world go around and this is one small example of our first steps towards the Internet of Everything.
Cisco clearly has a good vision story to tell - so much in fact that it was refreshing to hear a message from a technology leader that didn't contain a single product pitch. There weren’t switches, routers, or any other infrastructure components discussed and to deliver such a compelling message without getting mired down in the minutia of the technology is surely an example we can all strive to emulate. It's about the solution, it's about the business needs, and most importantly, it's about growing our collective organizations to stay at the forefront of the vision, strategy, goals, and values that keep our priorities moving forward! I look forward to writing more as the Partner Summit progresses this week.
Day 2: The World is Changing
The message is clear - tomorrow's partner needs to adapt to new market trends and customer needs. The days of being able to sell and install a box isn't going to be of value because data is being generated and consumed differently now than it has in the past. To ride this wave, the Cisco Partner of the future will have to change their business models. Customers will be funding their technology spends from different sources (line of business funding), they will be generating data from more sources (Internet of Things), storing in different places (Public/Private Cloud), and consuming it differently than they are today (Applications/Analytics). The Partner role will need to adapt to these emerging and customer trends.
The Partner of the Future will need to be focused on the three 'pillars' for Next Generation IT - technical and advanced services, platform and managed services, and consulting services. These three focus areas will ultimately be the recipes for greater and stronger customer engagement by focusing on the following details:
Technical and Advanced Services - These offerings are traditionally the converging of the infrastructure elements to drive lower cost of ownership for customers. These are what you would consider the traditional category leaders in your services organizations - folks focused on Mobility, LAN/WAN, Security, Voice, Data Center, etc. We are seeing a convergence of many of these technologies and a consolidation of the physical elements being deployed. This unification of products, across these categories, will be the focus of the infrastructure innovation of the foundational products and offerings.
Platform and Managed Services - This offering will ultimately be the focus on driving value through open, programmatic interfaces and will provide the software-based platform for services. These will ultimately encompass the System Applications, Infrastructure Platforms, and Analytics, Management, and Orchestration.
Consulting Services - This offering will represent the Applications level of focus for the Partner of the Future. This will focus on 3rd Party and Open Source components, Business Processes and Enterprise Applications, IoT Solutions and Industry Apps, and Video and Collaboration services. This pillar will ultimately represent the ultimate in business relevance for our customers and will be the premier tier of services that will drive Partner success long term.
The only constant in the technology world is change. This changing tide of technology transitions and the changing role of IT is an exciting thing to watch internally at Presidio as well as externally in our customer’s needs and business demands on their infrastructure.
Day 3: The Most Valuable Asset
The 2013 Cisco Partner Summit is chock full of content to talk about. There was a session that wasn't specifically technology focused on Day 3 that addressed a topic that every Cisco Partner struggles with - talent.
This manifests itself in not only in investing in our 'feet on the street' engineering staff, but across all areas of our organizations from the executive, to management, to delivery and sales organizations. An ad-hoc poll during the session asked the question, "Which is your top challenge when it comes to hiring talent?”. The number 1 response at 56% was, "Not enough candidates with the right skill-set and/or experience". The Partners among you reading this will likely strongly agree with that statement and the candidates reading this should be startled by it.
Recruiting is one of the largest pain points of a successful partner organization, and if you're in the market, you should plan on using this to your advantage. Developing the skills necessary to be a valuable member of a partner organization is key to making yourself a viable candidate. There is clearly no shortage of re-inventing going on today, as exampled by my previous two posts above, so find a topic that's relevant, embrace it, and learn it inside and out!
A second poll asked, "Which is your top talent management focus area for the next 12-18 months?" The top three responses were:
41% Developing talent through coaching and mentoring
21% Hiring and Onboarding
18% Retention, Reward & Recognition
This sends the message to me that partners are, not only looking for good candidates, they are strongly focused on retaining that talent once they have it in place. The most valuable asset a partner has are its people. Recruiting top talent, growing the talent you have, and retaining both is of paramount importance in the partner space - especially in the face of the Hybrid IT conversations happening at the Summit this year. The session I was attending was focused on a the Cisco Partner Talent Network http://www.ciscopartnertalentnetwork.com, but Presidio is of course always recruiting so if you're looking for a Partner that values and grows it's most valuable assets and you want to be that, you should head on over to our careers page http://www.presidio.com/our-company/careers!