Webex by Cisco, the tech giant‘s popular collaboration platform that has taken off since the start of the pandemic, is now being offered up as a managed service through a wholesale route to market for partners serving SMB customers.
The wholesale model offers a single commercial agreement between Cisco and its partners and a self-service platform that partners can use to deliver managed services for Webex.
They can also use the platform to create their own co-branded offers.
“It’s us saying: ‘Hey, partners, we’re giving you this best of breed, hybrid work collaboration platform with predictable pricing that’s easy and frictionless to order," Kristyn Hogan, vice president of global collaboration partner sales at Cisco, told CRN.
"Go make it better."
"Co-brand, wrap your services around it, and let’s take an even more compelling solution down-market,” Hogan said.
The Managed Services for Webex offer is geared towards small businesses with 250 users or fewer, Cisco said.
Managed Services for Webex will also help Cisco transition its 30 million-plus seat install base of BroadSoft customers to the cloud, Hogan said.
“There is a US$5 billion-plus opportunity to migrate those BroadSoft customers with us into the future; many of those customers are on a perpetual license that was sold a number of years ago,” she said.
The Cisco Wholesale for Webex program offers consumption-based billing and gives partners several invoicing options, including a committed model in which the partner would agree to doing a certain volume of Webex business over a set period of time for a discounted price through Cisco.
Partners can also choose an uncommitted model if they can’t or don’t want to agree to a set amount of business upfront, Hogan said.
Spirit Technology Solutions subsidiary Nexgen Australia, is among the first service provider partners to sign-up for the Wholesale for Webex.
Cisco is also in active trials of Wholesale for Webex with several Tier 1 global service providers.
Partners going through the wholesale program have access to dedicated Cisco experts, online training and a set of migration and marketing tools to drive market demand through sales enablement, adoption assets, and support training to better serve SMB customers.
Smaller customers are “fluid,” often adding and removing users and making changes, which adds more work for partners that have to go through Cisco for every transaction, Hogan said.
“If you put yourself in the shoes of our partners, they support a lot of smaller customers. We were having to negotiate pricing on a customer-by-customer basis, which adds time and friction.
What wholesale has done is taken away all of that friction, all of that complexity,” Hogan said.
“Now, our service provider partners have a very competitive offer and a super predictable price based on usage and consumption that they can just run with,” she added.
The wholesale model lets partners easily go to market with a co-branded offer to build on their market position and relationships with their customers.
Access to APIs and a Partner Portal gives simplifies management for these partners, Hogan said.
The first managed services packages for Webex available through the new wholesale route to market will include Webex Calling, common area calling, Webex Meetings, and Webex Suite, which includes the platform‘s more advanced features, Cisco said.
Hogan called Cisco’s wholesale pipeline, while still in its very early days, “tremendous.” Partners have been overwhelmingly asking for this route to market as a way to stay close to their customers, bill on their own paper and add their own services.
“This is about owning the customer lifecycle. These partners own it end to end. They do all the selling, the supporting, and managing the entire thing,” Hogan said.
“Customers who are buying in a managed services [model] want their partner.”
Managed Services for Webex is the first offer that Cisco is making available through its new Wholesale Partner Program.
More Cisco devices and cloud services for the SMB market will be launched later this year, the company said.