Smarter Contracting for Cisco SmartNet

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from NPI, a spend management consultancy, focused on delivering savings in the areas of IT, telecom, transportation and energy.

Last week, I shared some thoughts on how and why companies are paying too much for Cisco's SmartNet support offering. If you didn't have a chance to read it before the holiday, check it out. Unfortunately, SmartNet is not the only area where companies are overspending. Here are three assumptions that you should avoid as you plan your Cisco spending in 2012:

"When it comes to pricing, Cisco is steady." To some extent, this is true. Unlike Microsoft and VMware, Cisco customers aren't struggling to understand new licensing and pricing changes. Cisco keeps those on an even keel. However, there is a lot of variability outside of licensing and pricing. Hidden incentives for resellers are very fluid, which dictates which solutions they push, how they bundle them and how they're discounted.

"Bundling is the way to go." It's quite the opposite, actually. In some cases, bundled solutions are a smart deal, but more often than not, they're an excellent way for Cisco resellers to sell you more solution than you actually need. Break out your bundled offerings to determine if the price you're paying is less than what you would pay a la carte.

"I'm getting the best discount." You may want to double-check that. NPI has seen major changes in discount levels, especially for Cisco's unified communications offerings as the company is aggressively trying to gain market share. Many customers assume the standard discounting levels are available to them or are unaware that they can request new discounting levels. If you're one of them, think again and ask your reseller to discuss any changes in discounts that you should be aware of since your last purchase.

If you want to cut your Cisco spending in 2012 without cutting your IT infrastructure, the task may not be as hard as you think. By closely monitoring your spending, and routinely pushing resellers to share new product and discount information, you can make dramatic cuts without sacrificing the value Cisco brings to your network.

-- Jeff Muscarella, EVP of IT, NPI

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