Newsletter customer spotlight on BT

BT is one of only five Cisco Global Gold Partners worldwide.  As the Senior Manager for the Global Alliance between BT and Cisco, James Thompson is responsible for ensuring this relationship thrives.  This includes overseeing go to market strategies and partner programs that enable BT to deliver Cisco solutions to BT’s global customers. He leads a global team that acts as the interface between BT’s direct account teams and Cisco, bringing together sales enablement, marketing, product, and commercial support in order to deliver the latest digital solutions into the market.

 Here James Thompson talks about how Vortex 6 is helping ensure that the company optimizes its Cisco relationship and how BT derives real value from both the tools and its Vortex 6 Lifecycle Incentives Advisory Service.

BT’s relationship with Vortex 6 stretches back more than five years, with the Global Gold partner leveraging Vortex 6 for its Cisco partner compliance and lifecycle advisory service, reporting and advising on multiple geographies. Taking over the reins a year ago, James is now looking at ways to expand and enhance the partnership.

In the last 12 months, James has brought a very open approach to the relationship in terms of how Vortex 6 and BT work together.  He is constantly looking for opportunities to support business growth, profitability and efficiency, focusing on RoI and outcomes.  James comments: “Before I worked with Vortex 6, we operated in quite a transactional way and although there was real value being delivered, we were not viewing the relationship in the truest business sense.”

James and his team started to look at all elements of the Cisco program to drive value.  “We questioned every aspect, looking for areas where we might be duplicating effort and considering whether we resourced internally or outsourced aspects of the Cisco relationship. We have been very open about how Vortex 6 might be able to support this effort as we consolidate and drive value.” He adds: “So far it has been a winning formula and we are looking forward to how we further enhance our relationship.”

BT uses the V6 Fusion platform for compliance. James adds: “The insights it provides in a dashboard style is much better than our previous Excel spreadsheet. It helps us keep track of where we are in our compliance but more importantly it enables us to be proactive. I have a team of three and staying on top of all our certifications is a full-time job.  V6 Fusion helps us to get the visibility we need so we can focus our efforts and our resources and mitigate any gaps.”

From a compliance perspective, BT has a certified Cisco population of approximately 2,000 Cisco certified people located across 48 countries.  James adds: “Since the pandemic, our global strategy has been evolving and where we operate and do business has changed, driven in part by market forces.  Post the ‘Great Resignation’ we have seen employees moving around with new people coming through that we need to train. It’s a very fluid environment and staying on top of certification and compliance requirements is tough. V6 Fusion provides the clarity we need – at the push of a button we can see where the gaps are and better plan for future requirements.”

He goes on to say that falling out of compliance has a direct financial impact on the business, adding: “Failure to maintain Global Gold status would have a material impact on our profitability. It is therefore a really important certification that we hold.  It enables us to buy directly from Cisco in all our markets and avoids the cost of having to go through distribution.”

Additionally, the Vortex 6 Lifecycle Incentives service is really important to BT’s ambitions to stand up a Cisco customer service practice. But setting up this practice was no mean feat: “We are much more of a traditional managed service provider than a software company and, if you look at customer success and lifecycle selling, it’s much more of a West Coast methodology. As Cisco and BT move to a more annuity-based model, this approach is becoming more important.  However, Cisco’s Lifecycle Incentives program is more complex than its other programmes, requiring a lot of time and expertise in understanding its intricacies. For us to upskill and onboard that level of expertise in the team we would have been forced to make some difficult decisions resource-wise.”

Today the Vortex 6 team are essentially BT’s Lifecycle Incentive specialists and subject matter experts.  James has found Vortex 6 to be very supportive and responsive and as a result his team has managed, in the space of four to five months, to go from almost zero in terms of incentives paid out to being able to claim 50% of the possible incentives available.

BT has set quarterly targets and this particular quarter it overachieved its target halfway through the period, demonstrating the opportunity that Vortex 6 has enabled BT to unlock.  Again, moving from reactive to proactive planning and optimizing the available incentives has made the difference.  James adds: “To put a number on the time saved by Vortex 6 is difficult in an organization as large and complex as BT, but our ambition for Lifecycle incentives in the first year is to achieve between 8 and 10 times RoI.”

The direct benefits of V6 Lifecycle Incentives solution lie in the tangible evidence such as overdelivering on quarterly targets, growth in incentives claimed, and ROI, but there are also indirect benefits. Vortex 6 is helping BT by supporting its resilience as a Global Gold Cisco partner, offering the education and insights that are underpinning so much of BT’s end objectives and profitability and enabling them to continue to deliver an exceptionally high standard of service to customers.

James’ ambition is to move from “chasing rebates”, to rebates happening by virtue of the way that they do business, streamlining processes to align with the overall mission of Lifecycle Incentives. James concludes: “Undoubtedly, we wouldn’t be where we are now without Vortex 6’s professional service support, and as we evolve the practice, we are hopeful that it will become more mature and embedded into our sales processes.”