Keith Goodwin, the new head of Cisco’s worldwide channels, has the unenviable task of trying to improve upon the company’s highly successful partner profitability strategy.In fact the author of that program, Paul Mountford — who is now in charge of emerging markets for Cisco — told this reporter to ask Goodwin “not to screw up all his good work!” for this feature.
Goodwin, who took Mountford’s good-natured ribbing in stride, is serious about improving the strategy. However, he made it clear there will be no dramatic changes to the overall program.
CDN sat down with Goodwin during last month’s Cisco Analyst Conference in San Jose, Calif. to talk about his plans for this year.
CDN:Cisco’s partner profitability channel plan has really worked well in Canada. The feedback I’ve received from top partners in Canada is that it is the best plan out there. Is it tough for you to come into this role where there is a channel plan firmly in place that is working?
Keith Goodwin: No, it actually is a huge benefit. Paul (Mountford) and the team really did an outstanding job over the last three years addressing a very critical issue for our partners, which was profitability. Those programs are now the foundation for us to build on. Paul had that burning platform that he needed to address. Now we can really focus on driving growth through the partners and we have to make sure it is profitable growth.
CDN: Is it a matter of tinkering with the program or do you think you will make some substantial changes?
K.G.: One of the things the team did well was continuous innovation. It started with VIP and then OIP and SIP. My goal is to continue to innovate, to bring more new programs and initiatives and evolve the program to be in line with the opportunities today. We have heard a lot about the intelligent information network and all of the opportunities associated with that. Moving forward we must ensure our partners are enabled to really take advantage of this opportunity. That means we will not stand still.
CDN: What kind of a channel manager are you?
K.G.: Maybe this is a good segue into my background. Previous to this role I led the Americas International theatre, which includes Canada. We were 100 per cent dependent on partners. We were the best growing theatre at Cisco over the last couple of years. What I learned from managing this theatre was the importance of partners to our success. Two examples come to mind. One is on advanced technologies. In my old role, we thought this was the opportunity to drive growth in the theatre. We quickly figured out we could not get there without partners.
We also learned that partners were the key to us accelerating the commercial business in Latin America and Canada. Canada, as I am sure you know, has a huge SMB market. The one thing that I am a huge believer in is the value partners bring to customers and their ability to integrate solutions. They enable our growth.
CDN: How will the new SONA initiative work with partners?
K.G.: SONA is another huge opportunity for partners on the enterprise. They can bring new value with SONA components. It will require integration and a system solution approach. We have to prepare our partners for this opportunity. This goes back to the programs. We need to provide training, equipment and all the components partners must have to take advantage of this opportunity.
CDN: How will the Small Business Communications initiatives be rolled out to partners?
K.G.: That is our commercial architecture under the umbrella of intelligent information networks. It is all about enabling partners to reach the concept of the whole offer. Putting together the right offer specific for SMB with the right marketing and financing.
CDN: How will you go about building out the Linksys channel?
K.G.: We have to recruit the right set of resellers who will sell the CPE and associate provider service to those customers. We are dedicating, whenever we can, Cisco channel resources in the field to identify the partners and work closely with distribution because many are affiliated with distribution.