Cisco reassures partners over Avant-Garde fears

Cisco reassures partners over Avant-Garde fears

Vendor denies it will add to pressure on partners with more vertical specialisations

Cisco has allayed channel fears that the recent expansion of its Avant-Garde mid-market scheme is part of a strategy to drive greater specialisation among partners by sector.

Avant-Garde rewards resellers that invest heavily in mid-market resources with extra focus from Cisco’s mid-market sales team.

Logicalis, BT, Dimension Data and 2e2 are among seven resellers included in the invitation-only initiative, which Cisco has recently bolstered with additional rewards.
However, some of Cisco’s top resellers are worried that the strategy could create more work.

One Avant-Garde partner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “On top of all the technical specialisations, Gold partner status and Advanced Technologies, this is yet another hoop for channel partners to jump through.

Avant-Garde has been around for a good year, but is becoming increasingly formal and stringent. We are worried that we are going to see more programmes aligned to sales teams, such as the public sector and finance.”

However, Tom Kelly, UK managing director at Logicalis - which was crowned Avant-Garde partner of the quarter in Cisco’s last quarter - welcomed the programme’s extension.

“We are a huge fan of Avant-Garde because it changes the behaviour of individuals and sales teams in terms of how we engage with Cisco,” he said. “Since it has been such a fantastic success in the mid-market, I would be surprised if Cisco did not extend it to other teams.”

John Donovan, managing director of Cisco UK and Ireland channels, said: “Avant-Garde has been a successful programme for partners and customers and we are looking to add value to it. But it is a mid-market programme and we have no plans to move it to other areas of the business.”

Donovan added that Cisco’s public sector sales team already runs a similar p rogramme rewarding partners for building business plans in sub-divisions of the public sector.