Cisco is taking its Internet of Everything push to the next level, announcing a new Software Partner Program.
Bruce Klein, the company's senior vice-president of worldwide partner organisations, and the Cisco executive team made the announcement as part of the opening day keynote at Cisco Partner Summit 2015 at Palais des Congres in Montreal.
CIsco CEO, John Chambers, had previously laid down the challenge to its channel partners to evolve or die, and part of Cisco's focus on Internet of Everything sees it redefining itself as a software and services company, on top of its traditional network hardware base.
The program is designed to push its partners to develop software and apps to work with the emerging digital business world, focused on the internet of things. It will see rewards and incentives tied to three new categories of partners it calls: Lifecycle Advisors, Consultants and Software Integrators.
Consultants are self explanatory, software integrators will be expected to architect and integrate solutions, and lifecycle advisors will focus on software adoption and activation, as well as expansions of solutions and renewals. Cisco wants this capability to come from its partners, because Cisco doesn't have the capability to do it internally.
"Software is growing about twice as fast as hardware right now, and that's in the recurring revenue model. There's also higher margins on software, which helps you have better business conversations, and deliver better outcomes," Klein said.
The program will fall under the existing Cisco Partner Program, and will be launched in FY16.
Cisco has not laid out the specifics of the reward program yet, but wants it to focus more on verticals and change the way sales teams are compensated.
"We are making changes that will more tightly align our sales organisation around the world with the consumption changes we are seeing in the marketplace," said senior vice-president for worldwide field operations, Chuck Robbins.
The new scheme will be included in Cisco's Value Incentive Programme (VIP) rebates. Partners will have 60 days refund to take advantage of any rebates.
"In a very, very short period of time, we introduced a solutions partner program at our last partner summit, we now have 800 solution partners, over 1700 solutions.
"We see these three key areas as where partners are really investing, and those are the ones that are getting those 10 per cent higher margins," said Klein.
Klein says that just 33 per cent of the company's collaboration licenses are currently used, and it wants to change that.
The company also announced that it will be reducing its auditing process from yearly, to once every three years. The process will also be more automated, cutting partners' red tape. Cisco maintains the rigour will remain, and it will retain a focus on best practice, new standards and partners will still need to stay up to speed on their certifications.