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Cisco Partner Summit 2016: Healthy Deja Vu, Plus Plenty New

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Wendy Bahr

For the second time this year, Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) is set to host a global partner summit. The latest conference, scheduled for Nov. 1-3 in San Francisco, comes only eight months after the networking giant’s previous global partner gathering.

Why’s that? Actually, there’s a lot of logic at play here. Cisco’s fiscal year starts July 31. To more closely align Cisco’s own sales motions with partner motions, the company launched the November partner summit. (Watch for the annual partner summit to arrive this time of year going forward.)

> RELATED: ChannelE2E Interviews Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr

In a teaser alert, Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr posted a blog today — explaining key priorities for the summit.

“Though it has been only eight months since we last gathered, there are so many new developments that will make for a great Partner Summit next week in San Francisco and virtually for those who won’t be there live.

We’ll talk about new tools and resources for you to take advantage of digital transformation. We’ll talk about new technology innovations — doubling down on simplicity, alignment, and evolving our value exchange.  We’ll talk about everything available to help you grow and profit.”

Speed to market, speed to execution and speed to profitable revenues — or something along those lines — will surely be central to next week’s event.

Cisco and Its Channel: Transformative Times

Cisco, like many giants that grew up on hardware sales, is shifting aggressively toward software and recurring revenues. Cisco is making progress in the journey. The company’s deferred revenue from software and subscriptions grew 33% for its quarter ended July 30 — a sign that recurring revenues are kicking in at the company, CEO Chuck Robbins said at the time.

Generally speaking, I believe Cisco’s transition from CapEx toward OpEx is accelerating faster than such rivals as Dell Technologies and HP Enterprise. (By the way: Michael Dell shared his CapEx vs. OpEx perspectives with ChannelE2E last week.) But as IBM has shown us: It takes considerable strength, time and execution to crawl out from under traditional hardware revenues.

Plus, Cisco must navigate more than a business model/consumption model change. The company must also stay ahead of key trends involving security, hyperconverged data centers, virtualization and plenty more.

More From Wendy Bahr…

Amid all those variables how is Bahr feeling ahead of the conference — and what priorities will she communicate to partners? Actually, we gathered some clues (and some direct answers) from her during a phone call last week. We’ll share Bahr’s perspectives and some of our reactions really, really soon.

We’ll also be on hand for Cisco Partner Summit. We expect a little bit of deja vu — especially as Bahr reinforces her points of simplicity, alignment, and evolving the value exchange with partners. But there will also be plenty new to see, hear and analyze at the event…

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