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Should be interesting to see if Cisco customers upgrade en masse over next 12 months

Wasn’t able to make the Cisco Partner Summit this week in Boston, although I have been following updates along the way on their Channels Blog and also internally within the Partner Central site. Disclosure: I do some communications consulting for the Cisco worldwide partners organization, so I have access to lots of information that I cannot write about. Although if you have a question about their solutions initiative, feel free to contact me directly. :)

I haven’t noticed any news items a bout this particular development yet, so I’ll point to this blog entry (and video from Cisco channel poo-bah Keith Goodwin) that discusses what he describes as pent-up demand for roughly $9 billion in Cisco infrastructure equipment that apparently will hit their end-of-life status in the 2010 fiscal year.

What intrigues me about this situation is the fact that these businesses are going to be faced with a real tough decision: Spend loads of money outright to upgrade their infrastructure and introduce all sorts of potential new collaboration solutions that piggyback on Cisco’s unified communications architecture. Or, do nothing and risk spend loads of money in lost customer will, potential security breaches, not to mention higher maintenance costs if they ride it out. It’s pretty obvious what the better answer might be BUT my guess is that it won’t be that simple to convince companies to spend.

Just as the PC companies faced a change in attitude a couple years ago that recalibrated the notion that companies HAD to upgrade their desktops every few years because of the pace of development, it’s going to take a lot more than new features to win over the CFO when it comes to en masse network upgrades. Cisco partners better start talking the language of true business solutions, ones that will require application integration and development expertise. Yes, I am biased, but it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m privvy to some of Cisco’s thinking on this topic. I’ve been preaching the value of solutions selling for year.

Here’s some evidence in the form of a story I wrote for a respected channel news publication FIVE YEARS AGO. (Yikes.) Here’s a second story with additional details, for good measure.

You can contact me directly at this e-mail should you want to chat about the solutions revolution.

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