Cisco is placing partners at the centre of a digitisation drive across New Zealand, prioritising the delivery of hybrid work and security solutions wrapped up in bold recurring revenue ambitions.
Shaped by customer demand and strengthened by channel expertise, the technology giant enters 2023 armed with an enhanced portfolio and mandate to help businesses navigate the complexities of remote working, coupled with rising threat levels.
Success will be defined by the ecosystem, an ecosystem embracing specialisation en masse while accelerating the deployment of emerging technologies at scale.
“We’re in an incredibly privileged position because without doubt, our partner community is the gold standard of the industry,” said Garrett Heraty, Managing Director of New Zealand at Cisco. “We are 100% partner-led in New Zealand and have market-leading partners that every day advocate for their customers and our customers, representing our portfolio in an incredible way.”
Having assumed the leadership reins in May 2022, Heraty -- who is a Cisco veteran of more than 15 years following roles in the USA, Europe, and Middle East -- is striking a balance between global strategy and local execution, having been at the forefront of the vendor’s shift to software and recurring business models.
Now in New Zealand, plans are underway to accelerate such ambitions.
“We want global revenue achieved via true as-a-service models to reach 45 per cent within three years,” added Heraty, who also manages the vendor’s business across the Pacific Islands. “This is a real focus area and I see no reason why we would differ from the global targets at a local level.
“The New Zealand market continues to demonstrate real maturity and comfort in terms of adopting agile consumption models as well as managed services, which represents great opportunities for partners.”
Recurring software venue aside however, Heraty also cited opportunity within the hardware space as the Cisco+ strategy of delivering an entire portfolio via as-a-service takes shape.
“We’ve seen real traction from both our partners and customers around how we can build agile consumption models,” he noted. “We also announced the expansion of our Green Pay model across Asia Pacific which will further complement what we want to achieve specific to hardware-as-a-service.”
Green Pay is designed to support the “circular use” of Cisco’s sustainable technologies, allowing customers to enter the circular economy to help sustainability goals with the vendor recovering products free of charge at the end of contract terms.
“Our sustainability goals are important while also enabling an evergreen model of enabling our customers to be on the latest and greatest capabilities that we are bringing to market,” Heraty said.
Securing hybrid work in a digital era
In assessing the investment landscape across the country -- and despite ongoing economic headwinds -- IT spending in New Zealand is forecast to reach $17.6 billion in 2023, representing growth of six per cent compared to the previous 12 months.
According to Gartner, customers are also expected to deliver a 10.4 per cent growth in IT services investment as organisations ramp up digital project deployments,
“Our engagement with customers and partners has centred around how we can help digitise their businesses and reimagine their workspaces,” Heraty said.
Citing findings from Cisco’s ‘Employees are ready for hybrid work, are you?’ study -- which surveyed 1,026 employees across New Zealand -- Heraty said 79.9 per cent of Kiwis have saved an average of $13,000 per year by leveraging hybrid work models, with 60 per cent also acknowledging productivity and quality of work improvements.
“Hybrid work is here to stay in New Zealand,” he noted. “This creates opportunities for customers and partners but also challenges, notably around how organisations are embracing this change and empowering workers and reimagining workspaces.
“People are no longer coming into the office to clear down emails or dive into spreadsheets, they are seeking highly engaging and collaborative experiences.”
According to Cisco research, only 26.1 per cent of Kiwis believe organisations are “very prepared” for hybrid working, exposing a disconnect between employer actions and employee expectations.
“Organisations must recognise that and set up office environments to facilitate the highest level of productivity and engagement for those in the office but also those working remote,” Heraty added. “It’s imperative remote workers are provided equity in terms of their presence in the room, their voice in the meeting and their opportunities within the organisation.”
Despite consensus that hybrid is now the default method of working across New Zealand, Heraty acknowledged the rising cyber complications emerging as security expands beyond the four walls of the traditional office.
Such acknowledgment is supported in the research, with 77.5 per cent of Kiwis citing security as “critical” in making hybrid working safe, despite only 62.7 per cent of employees believing their organisation currently has the required capabilities and protocols in place.
“Security is the top conversation with customers,” Heraty referenced. “Our role, with our partners, is to help secure all aspects of an organisation as employees access applications and critical data from wherever they decide to work from.
“The key is to allow business to be highly agile and highly productive without ever compromising security -- this is definitely a top concerns for CIOs, especially as the threat vector continues to increase across New Zealand.”
While not viewed as a pure-play security vendor, Heraty stressed the importance of addressing the “full threat continuum”, as opposed to simply tackling a point component -- cited as a key differentiator in a crowded cyber market.
“We are incredibly proud of our security business and we have a rich install base in the country,” he outlined. “We have a broad portfolio, not just within security, but beyond that -- notably we can enable the network to be a security sensor rather than just providing bolt on solutions, without ever compromising our ambition of being the best of the best in all parts of our security offerings.”
Gaining partner momentum
In defending strong market share across multiple technology segments, Heraty acknowledged that Cisco enjoys an “enviable position” among customers but stressed the importance of building momentum through an evolving partner ecosystem.
“We are in a strong position but that’s because of more than 30 years of partnering with our channel community and supporting customers across New Zealand -- both in challenging times and in great times,” he caveated.
“We’re seeing incredible momentum in the market and our core parts of the portfolio continue to perform incredibly well, particularly our collaboration offerings which have never been stronger.”
A key factor in Cisco’s strengthened collaboration suite is the recent partnership with Microsoft, allowing customers the option to run Microsoft Teams by default on Cisco Room and Desk devices.
Set to be rolled out during the first half of 2023, the sync up will offer users the ability to run Microsoft Teams natively on Cisco Room and Desk devices Certified for Microsoft Teams, with the option of Teams as the default experience.
As a result, Cisco will now become a partner in the Certified for Microsoft Teams program for the first time, with six of the vendor’s most popular meeting devices and three peripherals now certified for Teams, with more coming in the future.
“This partnership shows our customers and partners that we’re listening,” Heraty said. “We’re showing up with our solutions where and when it matters most -- we know how businesses want to consume our technologies and how they want our technologies to seamlessly integrate with other platforms.
“Imagine an iPhone user calling an Android user and experiencing a different calling process -- this would not be accepted in a million years yet somehow in corporate communications, this is tolerated. Not accepted, but tolerated.
"But it’s not good enough anymore and we must work together to provide the very best experience irrespective of what meeting platform organisations are using, whether that be Webex, Teams or something else.”
To avoid the common challenge of converting new products or alliances announced on the global stage into immediate local opportunities, Cisco has embarked on a wave of education and enablement sessions in the Kiwi market, targeting both customers and partners.
“We’re helping the market understand what this means,” he stated. “The level of maturity in the partnership from day one is refreshing and now it’s imperative that we drive education and awareness in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, six new partner solution specialisations were unveiled at Cisco Partner Summit 2022 in November, aligned to “fast-growing market opportunities” and plans to expand capabilities via the channel to meet evolving customer demands.
The additional offerings span Full-stack Observability (FSO); Hybrid Work from Office and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), in addition to Hybrid Cloud Computing; Hybrid Cloud Software and Hybrid Cloud Networking.
The aim is to better align the ecosystem with end-user requirements, with each specialisation recognised and rewarded based on the value delivered -- tied specifically to “knowledge and experience”.
“This is a big step and demonstrates our commitment to aligning to how our customers want to digitise their business and how we can build partner specialisations and certifications to support that,” Heraty said. “Even during the pandemic, the innovation didn’t slow down and if anything, it accelerated due to the pressure placed on organisations to enable hybrid work and drive digitisation projects forward.”
"One of our great value propositions to our partners is the breadth of the portfolio. But we haven't always made it easy for our customers to consume it and our partners to sell it."
In response, Heraty said the vendor is bringing together the key components of a solution -- such as hybrid work, networking, security and collaboration products -- under a single SKU.
"We're making it simple to sell but also driving architecture solutions to deliver a true business outcome and single experience for the user," he explained. "This will be a strong asset for our partners to take to market and simplify the process of selling cross architecture solutions because what they're selling is actually a customer experience."
Customer demand aside, Heraty said challenges also emerged in relation to ensuring the market was “skilled up, trained and knowledgable” as the vendor’s portfolio enhanced in parallel with heightening end-user requirements.
“We now have a great opportunity to drive even more awareness in terms of innovation and also new and emerging technologies, such as SASE and SD-WAN among others,” he noted. “We’ve recently held briefing sessions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to educate the channel on these new solutions and were oversubscribed for all of our technology updates.”