Tech Data Corp. has introduced a new portal designed to give even the smallest resellers of products from Cisco Systems Inc. the same online order management capabilities enjoyed by partners large enough to transact business with Cisco directly.
Available immediately and free of charge, the Cisco 1Source platform enables anyone in Clearwater, Fla.-based Tech Data’s channel to register, configure, quote, order, and track Cisco solutions on a fully self-serve basis.
“We’ve taken something that’s very complex and broken it down into something that’s very simple,” says Nicko Roussos, Tech Data’s U.S. director of Cisco Solutions.
San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco has an online ordering tool of its own, called Cisco Commerce Workspace (CCW), but only bigger resellers can use it to process sales autonomously from start to finish. Other partners can manage deal registration and system configuration through CCW, but must call or email an account rep to place and check the status of orders from that point forward.
“We’ve leveled that playing field,” Roussos says. The end results for smaller Cisco partners include shorter sales cycles, lower ordering overhead, and fewer costly mistakes.
“We pretty much remove all manual input or anything of that nature that has any propensity to create any errors or inefficiencies,” Roussos notes.
During beta testing, Tech Data says, 1Source users increased their productivity up to four times and improved their win ratio on sales opportunities by ten percent.
Utilizing a set of APIs Tech Data has created, partners can also integrate their in-house ordering solutions with 1Source, essentially turning the new platform into a back end for the systems their employees use to work with other vendors.
“They don’t even have to come to our portal,” Roussos says.
Though Cisco 1Source is designed to be intuitive enough for users to learn on their own, Tech Data is making onboarding resources available to help resellers take full advantage of the system’s workflow optimization capabilities.
“I have a team of individuals carved out that will work through whiteboarding processes, training, and demos to ensure that partners are truly redefining their business processes around the capabilities that we’ve created,” Roussos says.
Tech Data expects Cisco 1Source to lower barriers to entry that prevent some channel pros from offering Cisco products to their customers.
“Operational complexity does cause partners to shy away from managing Cisco today,” Roussos states. “We’re trying to make it a very simple experience for them.” In the process, he continues, the distributor is also helping one of its most important vendor partners extend its reach into the SMB channel.
“We’re creating a platform that gives Cisco the scale it needs to be able to penetrate that market effectively,” Roussos says.
As affordable cloud-based solutions like the Spark collaboration system and Umbrella security platform, as well as SMB-friendly products from the Meraki family of networking, security, and mobile management solutions, take on an increasingly strategic role in its portfolio, working more closely with a broader array of SMB channel partners has become a higher priority for Cisco.