A data driven approach to customer experience: Cisco Ready Platform


Published: May 2022

The Cisco Ready Connected Experience platform, developed by Cisco IT, delivers focused access to a single, central customer database for 20,000 sales employees and 10,000 users from our channel partners. With the up-to-date customer information provided by this platform, Cisco and sellers can concentrate on creating a more positive and continuous customer experience.

The challenges of customer data

When our customers purchase Cisco products, it’s typically hundreds or thousands of hardware units, software licenses, service contracts, and subscriptions. These purchases create enormous amounts of data about the installed base of Cisco solutions, previously stored in multiple databases. Users downloaded 30,000 customer reports monthly, with some reports containing tens of thousands of data lines. Sellers spent a lot of time sifting through the data simply trying to identify potential customer needs.

Constraints on the accuracy and versatility of that data limited sellers’ ability to have timely and insightful conversations with customers about all their Cisco purchases. For example:

  • The customer record sometimes listed older equipment, but with no indication about whether it was still in use.
  • For large enterprises such as governments, it wasn’t always clear if the data should be associated with individual agencies, divisions, departments, or subsidiaries.
  • Some companies are both Cisco customers and channel partners, making it difficult to track whether products were purchased for internal use or resale.

“A big problem created by the lack of central data was that our sellers approached customers in separate and different ways about each renewal or new product discussion,” says Patryk Kowalczyk, Cisco Ready Data Product Manager, Chief Data and Analytics Office at Cisco. “We knew we could better help both sellers and customers if our sellers had complete and current data on the installed base of Cisco hardware, software subscriptions, and service contracts.”

Cisco Ready: A single platform for installed-base data

Figure 1. Cisco Ready connected experience dashboard

Cisco Ready provides a single reporting and analytics platform for the products purchased by Cisco customers. It brought together previously separate data into one platform, then applied consistent business rules and customer account definitions. The customer data is refreshed automatically from Cisco commerce systems multiple times each day to help sellers keep up with current activity, identify upcoming renewal dates, avert duplicate orders, and handle busy sales periods. See Figure 1.

Cisco Ready allows the seller to see key data related to their customers, including all Cisco products owned, purchase dates, support status, and whether a product is covered by a service contract and the associated renewal date. We expanded the breadth of the data we provide to our sellers so they can get a holistic view of their customers.

says Kowalczyk

Customers, sellers, and Cisco benefit from an improved sales experience

Cisco Ready delivers benefits to our customers, sellers, and Cisco as a company by improving the sales experience. Sellers can give customers better information about their installed Cisco products, timely reminders about renewals, and relevant recommendations for product replacement or upgrade. This information helps to position customers for success, improving their satisfaction and loyalty for Cisco solutions.

With improved data, Cisco and our sellers benefit from more insights about sales opportunities for individual customers, an industry segment, or a customer type. Sellers save time and work more productively because Cisco Ready provides current customer information and easy ways to sort and filter that data. The flexibility of data access in Cisco Ready also allows our sales teams and channel partners to handle more sales transactions through cost-effective resources, such as online processes and contact-center representatives, instead of a higher-level salesperson. See Figure 2.

Cisco Ready delivers analytics based on artificial intelligence and machine learning on customer data to help identify potential customer trends and needs. For example, when AI analysis identifies which customers don’t have a Cisco solution that is widely deployed in their industry, the seller can help those customers see the solution’s potential for delivering value in their networks.

Figure 2. Cisco Ready installed-base metrics page

The value of similar environments for development testing and production deployment

The Cisco Ready applications and the customer data are hosted on Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) servers in the Cisco IT production environment. These servers are customized to support SAP HANA for data access and to deliver highly responsive performance for the Cisco Ready application.

Because of the large number of users, the Cisco Ready platform requires extensive testing as part of its ongoing development. Cisco UCS servers also support a development environment that dynamically scales to support the full capacity requirements expected for production, which allows for realistic testing of new Cisco Ready capabilities. This environment can be scaled down easily when testing is complete, saving on budget charges.

“Cisco technology met and exceeded our needs to build a testing environment that is elastic, dynamic, and responsive for our Cisco Ready development activity,” says Alex Garbarini, Data Engineering Manager, Chief Data and Analytics Office at Cisco. “It also gives us the ability to quickly port new software releases to the production environment. These are important capabilities for enabling Cisco Ready to deliver large insights from large data sets to a large number of users.”

Cisco IT uses the AppDynamics Application Performance Management (APM) solution to regularly monitor and improve Cisco Ready performance. APM tracks user actions and system response against defined thresholds. When application performance is outside of that threshold, APM sends a detailed alert to the IT operations team or automatically implements a corrective action.

Next steps

The Cisco Ready team will continue partnering with the Cisco Customer Experience organization to improve the accuracy and completeness of the customer data. To maintain that quality, authorized sellers will be able to update and correct certain data, such as marking equipment the customer has removed from service

For more information

Cisco UCS Servers

AppDynamics APM