Looking Ahead to the Cisco Partner Summit 2014!


Sunday, Day -1 of the Cisco Partner Summit 2014

Travel.  It’s never good to get squeezed for time, so I always like to arrive before the activities start. Virtual attendees are the big winners here, as they avoid all travel woes. I’ll kiss my wife and kids goodbye after Church and head to the airport.

Monday, Day 0 of the Cisco Partner Summit 2014

The main events don’t start for another day, but I learned years ago that it’s a mistake not to be here the day before the presentations start.  Monday’s the best day for 1:1 meetings. If you’ve got a need to talk to someone, this is the day that’s wide open for it.  When you schedule a meeting with a Cisco exec, they come in informed, they pay attention, notes are taken, and follow-ups are made. This is where you start to see how Cisco’s earned its leadership position in the market. They actively listen to their partners, and they act on what they hear.

Various business units in Cisco also schedule what they call “Auxiliary Meetings” or receptions on Monday.  This is the first year I can remember the Cisco Federal team not having a major Auxiliary meeting for their federally focused US partners.  I understand they’re planning a little reception sometime this week instead. Auxiliary meetings aren’t listed on the main schedule, so if you’re not invited, you don’t even necessarily know what you’re missing. Other than 1:1 meetings, I’m planning to attend a “Partner Plus” reception and a “Press & Industry Analyst” reception.

Tuesday, Day 1 of the Cisco Partner Summit 2014

I think of this as the “big picture” day.  You can expect to hear all about the Internet of Everything (IoE) in the Global General Session because it’s “an astounding $19 trillion growth opportunity over the next decade for Cisco and our partners.” I’ve heard that enough times that I don’t need to hear it more. I got it. I believe we’re heading toward a dramatically more connected world, which bodes well for Cisco and its partners, and what I want to see are good examples and case studies to build from – things that can inspire me and my team to new ideas – ideas we can use help our customers succeed!

The Americas Geo Region Session is intended to be a little more pragmatic and focused on how to navigate (and lead) transformative, technology-enabled business change.  One of the highlights, other than hearing from Wendy Bahr, will be the guest appearance of J.B. Wood, co-author of the book B4B. The B4B model is essentially about using real connectedness to deliver outcomes to customers rather than simply products or services, and it has the potential to change the playing field dramatically, at least for those who embrace it.  Here’s an Amazon link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/B4B-Technology-Reinventing-Customer-Supplier-Relationship/dp/0986046205

Wednesday, Day 2 of the Cisco Partner Summit 2014

Day 2 will bring us a more nuts and bolts Global General Session describing Cisco’s basic strategies, their perceptions of major market changers like SDN, cloud, etc.  I’m particularly looking forward to Rowan Trollope addressing what’s going on in Collaboration, and I’ll be paying very close attention to Chris Young when he addresses Cisco’s security strategy in these post-Sourcefire days.

After the Global General Session is when things start to diverge between the in-person event and the virtual one in a big way.  I’ll be off to the Gold and Master Partner Lunch, which is a nice appreciation gesture, but then we move into the rapid-fire “business transformation sessions.”  On demand recordings will be available in a day, but the on-site crowd hears them first.  Which is great, except that there are more sessions that I want to listen to than is physically possible without being in multiple places at the same time, so this is where the VPS really shines.  You’ll have to wait a day for them to post the on-demand events, but you’ll be able to go back and hear every Business Transformation Session you are interested in. I plan to use VPS to listen to some of the ones that I am not able to hear in person.

Thursday, Day 3 of the Cisco Partner Summit 2014

Day 3 has always been my favorite day of the Cisco Partner Summit.  It’s focused on Business Leadership, and it’s traditionally the day when I learn real, lasting lessons that I can take home and apply.  These are the places where I’ve learned outstanding lessons from speakers like Scott McKain (@ScottMcKain), Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11), Tim Sanders (@sanderssays), and Mark Sanborn (@Mark_Sanborn), just to name a few.  Cisco’s willingness to invest in helping us to run better businesses really differentiates them from other companies that come across as just interested in selling stuff.  It’s no secret that Cisco wants to sell, but investing in soft skills like business leadership for its partners is taking the long view and fosters good will in a way that can’t be gotten through the more traditional sales-related pressure approaches others take. If I could get Cisco to improve one thing for VPS attendees, it would be to record and broadcast these on demand.

The last session of the event is titled “Creating a Culture of Innovation and Breakthroughs” with the guest speaker Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. I expect it to be inspiring. What business leader worth his salt doesn’t long to succeed at inspiring his team to innovate and then celebrate their breakthroughs?


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