I’ve been talking to partners a lot lately about “the roads to recurring revenue” that can take us all closer to a future of cloud, subscription services, and relevance in a new market where software is king. It’s always exciting to hear from the partners who are cruising these roads and transforming their businesses. They are seeing some interesting payoffs and having a lot of fun along the way.
On-Ramp: Application Development
Jeremy Hudgeons is a lead solution architect for collaboration at GDT, one of the largest Cisco VARs in the country for more than 20 years. Hudgeons says the transition isn’t happening fast enough for him. He’s a huge Cisco Spark proponent and his self-described “impatience” is helping drive a lot of innovation at GDT and their enterprise customer businesses.
Four years ago, GDT started building a software development practice when its owner steered the company towards solution integration. Today the GDT development team is focused on taking Cisco’s diverse portfolio, including collaboration, IoT, and big data analytics and building total solutions.
They are designing integrations for customers in healthcare, education, financial services, and oil and gas industries. While they focus on total solution development, their approach to app dev starts with the small things that make life more convenient. Incident management, which combines Cisco Spark, WebEx, Tropo, and ServiceNow software, is what they call “low hanging fruit” because every industry can use this automation to speed troubleshooting. They’ve built internal apps like “lunch bot” (suggests restaurant ideas), “room bot” (identifies open meeting rooms), and “file security bot” (allows moderators to control sensitive content in Cisco Spark spaces) to help with their own day-to-day decision making. “If we see a use for it, others will too,” says Brett Kugler, a software architect for DevOps Innovations at GDT.
On-Ramp: Talent Transformation
The biggest payoff from building this software practice so far, the team agrees, is talent transformation. GDT is using the movement to software as a way to vitalize the business with new energy and fresh perspective. The company is not only hiring more “hybrid” engineers (who have hardware and programming expertise), adoption consultants, and people who are experienced talking to line of business, but they are reskilling their existing engineers to code and to communicate with developers. “Yes, we want that traditional CCIE, but we need people who can share a common nomenclature with our developers and be an intermediary too,” Hudgeons explains.
It’s a Journey
The software team admits the transition to a new business model isn’t an easy one – and they are still figuring out how to monetize this business. The best place to start, they believe, is getting the engineering team to make the transition. Then you’ve got to look at everything else – the licensing, accounting, sales teams and your go-to-market. They also say it’s smart to bring in partners to fill in gaps of expertise so you can ramp up more quickly.
By developing this new practice, GDT is not only embedding itself into its customers’ business, but strengthening its ties with Cisco. “Application development has given us a whole new network of relationships,” explains Kugler. More and more Cisco product sales specialists bring GDT into customer accounts to talk about workflow integrations using the Cisco Spark platform. GDT was one of four partners Cisco asked to develop an application for the APIC app store we unveiled last year.
“I haven’t seen a Cisco person walk into this building and not walk out just ‘awestruck’ because we are doing everything we say we’re doing,” says Kugler.
Congratulations to GDT and all our partners out there who are making changes to accelerate their path to recurring revenue and a future of relevance and greater profitability.