C-Scape at Cisco Live is always a good event and this year was no exception. I wasn’t sure what to expect as so many changes had occurred during the last year, but I was pleasantly surprised to find strong progress made in the cybersecurity services realm and excellent answers to all of my burning questions.
Customer Experience (CX) Efforts
Analysts were treated with a behind the scenes round table on a customer and partner portal which creates a digital interface with product and services contracts telemetry, contract expiration information, coverage status, advisories, issue insights, suggested training and certification, quick help via WebEx with a customer success manager, and opportunities to move forward on the client technology journey. It is built modularly and will ultimately allow partners to API the tools into their own customer portal.
The CX portal is predicated on the customer lifecycle:
As customers move around the lifecycle “race track,” the portal will continue to update, moving them from onboarding to implementation, support, maintenance, and operational service opportunities. Customers must buy support to see the portal. The partner portal will likely be announced at Partner Summit. The customer portal will beta in September and will evolve with feedback. Today Cisco is “customer zero.” Ultimately this will be the support tool.
Why does this matter to Cisco services?
Cisco, like most 30-year-old behemoths, hasn’t historically captured renewals and upsell opportunities as well as hungry startups. The CX efforts will help enhance and deepen revenue for the company. But there’s more to it than that. Customers need help, and services are where they find it. Security complexity in a hybrid and multi-cloud world is not going to slow down any time soon. Cisco desires to help customers do the right thing across all its products. Cisco understands the need to apply world-class implementation and support services so that the customer configures the product properly and understands how to use it. Customers engage Cisco for strategic consulting services as they go through their digital transformation journey, migrate to the cloud(s), and update security architecture. Cisco has had success providing operational services (MSS) to remove day-to-day management and monitoring from clients’ security burden. And, finally, Cisco’s incident response services have won accolades in the market and should be considered across all its customer segments.
The disconnect Cisco discovered is that it doesn’t consistently inform the client of services that might have helped them, or bundle and embed implementation and knowledge transfer at the right time in the customer journey. This past year, Cisco has taken time to discover, curate, and rationalize service offerings around the globe. While I’ve had concerns about the pause on some services like discontinuing the premier and enhanced levels of the managed service Advanced Threat Analytics or ATA, for example, I am encouraged by executive reasoning to ensure that service offerings are predictable and repeatable for the customer. Cisco handled ATA’s sunset well by talking with each and every customer to let them know it would honor the entirety of the contract obligation until its fulfillment.
Conversations with Service Execs
Non-disclosure (NDA) conversations with the lead of overall security services, Ashley Arbuckle, whose official title is VP / GM, Global Security Customer Experience, Sean Mason, Director of Incident Response and Matt Rodgers, Managed Security Services Product Management left me with all my questions and concerns answered by Cisco. I can’t disclose insights from these conversations, but echo my colleague Jon Oltsik’s sentiment that "security shines at Cisco Live."
Evolution Takes Time
Transformation of Cisco’s security services business to include step-by-step CX alignment is no exception to this rule. Tracking the customer’s journey around the lifecycle “race track” is a useful and necessary next step in Cisco’s move from a security hardware vendor, which offers security services, to a critical services partner to the customer. As customers progress around the lifecycle, suggesting services, training, and products is not only supportive to the customer's transformation but will significantly entrench Cisco’s services and bolster revenue.