For decades, channel partners have been critical to Cisco’s success.
It’s a community that’s built on trust, clear communication, and shared vision — not to mention, amazing technology. So, it’s no surprise that CRN included a record 13 Cisco members on its 2022 Channel Chiefs list.
Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s SVP for Global Partner Sales, received an additional honor, by also being named on CRN’s 2022 Most Influential Channel Chiefs list. We spoke with Oliver about what makes his team so successful — and the continuing importance of the channel-partner relationship in a time of great change and challenges.
Q. Thank you, Oliver! First off, congratulations. What does this double honor mean to you, personally?
A. I think it proves that we are doing the right things. A big chunk of our team is represented. And we continue to see it not just in this kind of acknowledgment, but in our service with partners, we see it in our numbers, and we see it in the feedback that we’re getting from our customers. Because in the end, there’s nothing more important to us than our customers. And to create the best hardware, the best services, the best software, we need partners to help us create exactly the experience that our customers want to see.
Q. There are quite a few new names from Cisco on the list. What are some common themes for why you think they were selected?
A. We have a very diverse team, and we have people that are very disruptive and constantly driving completely new ideas. And they have one focus, making life easier and more profitable for our partners. So, whether that’s through automation, digitization, AI, driving more data-driven approaches to understanding our customers, the transformation this team is driving is simply amazing. And it’s not just leaders that have been named here. It’s the people behind them. There are just so many ideas and so much energy.
Q. How does Cisco’s culture support that success?
A. The reason why Cisco’s always highly ranked is because our partner focus is part of our DNA. Look at our CEO, look at our sales leaders. Everyone understands the importance of the partner experience and the role partners play in delivering customer value. It’s the entire company that is supporting this success. And it comes from the daily work with our partners. The pandemic was a great example. We were faster, more agile, and much more flexible than our competitors, because we had thousands of people on the partner side who could help us to react to the needs of our customers.
Q. Driving innovation and growth are two criteria for being selected. How have you succeeded at that through the challenges of a global pandemic and supply chain disruptions?
A. When we moved into the lockdown, a lot of people were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to continue to work as closely with our partners as we did in the past. Before the pandemic, we could meet in restaurants, bars, and technology fairs. But in some ways, the relationships got even stronger when all we had was Webex. I had more meetings with my partners during the pandemic than I had before and with a more spontaneous exchange. It’s the technology that is enabling us, but it’s also the spirit of the people. We still want to talk to each other and hear about one another’s experiences.
Being honest, open, and reliable is a guiding principle. Even in these times with supply chain issues, people know that whatever happens we will walk the walk. And they know that we can’t change the world, but that we’ll do everything possible on our side to minimize the impact to our customers and partners.
Q. In recent years, you’ve supported Cisco’s transformation from a hardware to a software and services focused organization. How has that affected our relationships in the partner community?
A. We still sell the hardware, the software, and the services, but the way people consume them is changing. Most of our partners appreciate our shift to an as-a-service offering because we are helping them to meet the changing needs of customers and reduce complexity. Look at hybrid work and hybrid cloud, for example. We’re offering hybrid cloud as-a-service. We combine the managed services approach with a WiFi access point, a router, and a secure connection together with the Desk Pro system with Umbrella and other security support, that’s what they are looking for.
Q. During 2021, Cisco partners reported the highest profitability in more than 10 years. How did Cisco help to drive this success?
A. This success is only partially Cisco’s success. The partners themselves are doing a great job.
But it’s proof that our overall approach is reaping dividends. Because partner profitability is No. 1 with us. We always keep in mind that, whatever solution we build, whatever program we start, it has to make sense for our partners. And we stay very close with our partners to understand how they are looking at things.
Q. Cisco is a leader not just in technology, but in sustainability, inclusivity, human rights, and many other important issues of our time. How do these commitments influence our partner relationships?
A. We all see that we have a bigger responsibility. And our partners want to be part of the change. Partners and customers are asking, how can Cisco help me to reduce my carbon footprint? And by the way, can you tell me, Cisco, how you are doing it?
There’s a lot of things that we can do. We can help you reduce power consumption and increase efficiency. We can take back old material and reuse it. And we’re increasing the incentives for others to do better. We also have the inaugural Cisco Global Digital Sustainability Challenge, which rewards partners developing solutions to help customers drive sustainability outcomes. It’s ultimately about us working with partners s to have a bigger sustainability impact.
It's a mission that is coming straight from the heart of our people. And we are doing a lot of good things. But it’s not enough. And that’s why we continue to change in a changing world. We can never stand still with the models of the past. Because technologies are changing, our customers are changing, and the responsibilities that we share with our partners are changing.