What Cisco's AppDynamics acquisition means for Aussie partners

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This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of CRN magazine.

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What Cisco's AppDynamics acquisition means for Aussie partners
Scott Janney, AppDynamics

Scott Janney, head of channel and alliances APJ at AppDynamics, discusses the implications of the Cisco takeover, the company’s partner program and more.

Journey

I started my career a little over 20 years ago in a sales role for a small systems integrator. From there I moved on to a private software company that specialised in real-time software development and I was there for a few years again in a sales capacity.

After that, I moved into the networking and security space for about the next 15 years. And for the first six years of that I had various sales and business development roles with the vendors – and it was really during that time, as I was being charged to build businesses in Australia, I worked out that leveraging the channel was a really effective way of establishing and growing a business.

I managed to do that quite successfully in those organisations and I was then offered an APAC role managing global partners and strategic alliances – and that’s where I found that I loved working with competent partners that could add value to a vendor, add value to the sales process and expand scale and reach in a given market.

Building a channel

After spending quite some time in the networking and security space, I really wanted to go back into a role with a smaller vendor where I was able to build something from scratch, and that’s really what drew me to AppDynamics. They approached me and mentioned they were setting up their business in APAC and they were looking for someone with strong experience spanning the APAC market and building a channel ecosystem basically from scratch.

When I got here, we only had a few partners that were capable and we had a pretty transactional and reactionary relationship with many of them. I was charged with building the go-to-market plan and building more meaningful relationships. ANZ became the focus market in which to do that. That was about a year-and-a-half ago, and in that time, we’ve been very successful in the local market. The channel business here is very important to our growth strategy and we’ll continue to be so.

Partner program

Our partners range from global partners with lines of business around application management, DevOps and testing services, right down to niche organisations that specialise in working with customers on digital transformation strategies or work enterprise application services.

Around the middle of last year, we simplified our partner program and created a two-tier program with a Titan Tier for our top strategic partners. It was designed to make us focus on those most strategic partners. We rolled out two new partner enablement programs, the Kickstarters program and the Masters program, which were designed to enable partners to elevate their discussions with their customer’s digital transformation journeys. All partners are eligible for our Kickstarter online courses which provide a nice introduction to our platform. The Masters training courses are more customised in-person training designed to build sales and pre-sales champions within our best partners.

Given the importance of services that surround our solutions, our top strategic partners can deliver implementations on our behalf.

Acquisition by Cisco

The Cisco acquisition certainly gave us immediate access to an incredible channel ecosystem. Given the size of that ecosystem and the fact that we are relatively still a startup, we were forced to be quite focused in which Cisco partners we chose to engage with in terms of working with them on AppDynamics solutions. It was great to have the luxury of choice from all of those partners, and we were able to choose those partners who wanted to build a capability around us and wanted to invest in us, allowing us to invest in them as well.

I think any acquisition is bound to bring its share of complexity and challenges to any organisations that are going through that. Cisco is regarded as a company that’s better at doing acquisitions than most; certainly in my experience and I’ve been through a few in my career. The last year of the acquisition with Cisco has gone as smoothly as you could hope for. Now we’re a company that has access to all the scope of Cisco’s amazing resources and scale, so leveraging that will be key to our success in the future.

Goals

We work with a lot of the top organisations in Australia at the moment, with our key verticals being in financial services, retail and government.

We’ve been really successful over the last year-and-a-half to the point where we’re investing in more people to build out the team here in Australia, and also in Japan and Southeast Asia. The primary goal is to continue to increase partner-sourced revenue, increase the overall percentage of company revenue that’s transacted through the channel, and continue to improve our partners’ technical skills and the amount of professional services that are going through our partners.

We’re a pretty hot technology and as a result of that, we deliver really solid outcomes for our customers. Because of our technology’s ability to do that, we have a lot of interest from the channel community at large in getting involved with AppDynamics. The biggest challenge that I have at the moment is being oversubscribed for requests to be part of the program, hence the investment in building out our channel resources.

I’ve been pretty fortunate in my career to have worked for amazing leaders and also worked with amazing teams. All the success you get is because of the people who work for and alongside you. The key thing I’ve learned is to be focused on who and where you want to work, be transparent at all times, keep the lines of communication open, so you can keep teams on the same page and working towards the same goals, and investing in the channel partners that want to invest in you.

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