New Cisco partner certification targets selling to business managers

Cisco partner certification is expanding with the addition of three Business Transformation Certifications aimed at engaging business managers.

At the Cisco Partner Summit 2013 in June, Cisco announced new Business Transformation Certifications to help channel partners better interact with line of business (LOB) managers who have increased command over IT purchase decisions. Today, Cisco announced the availability of three new Business Transformation Certifications designed to better prepare partners for new opportunities.

The Cisco partner certification set includes two specialist tracts: Transformative Architecture and Business Value. The three certifications include Cisco Transformative Architect Specialist, Cisco Business Value Specialist and Cisco Certified Business Value Practitioner.

The Cisco Transformative Architecture Specialist is more geared toward a systems engineer role, while the Cisco Business Value Specialist and Cisco Certified Business Value Practitioner target account managers, according to the vendor.

"As roles shift at customer sites and new skills are required, we have to help partners fill the skills gap to make sure that our partners are enabled, trained and productive in the new business environment," said Tejas Vashi, director of product management for the company's Learning@Cisco unit.

The Cisco executive is referring to the consumerization of IT and the shift in enterprise IT spending and decision making to the LOB managers, who care less about speeds and feeds and more about IT as a business enabler.

One of the top 10 predictions in IDC's "Predictions 2013: Competing on the 3rd Platform" report highlighted the growing importance of LOB executives. According to IDC, by 2016, 80% of new IT investments will directly involve LOB executives, with LOBs as the lead decision makers in half or more of those investments.

According to Vashi, there are a number of new requirements for partners. He said they need to do the following:

  • Gain a strategic view of what the business owner is trying to accomplish.
  • Engage earlier with the customer; deals will be more strategic based on cross-architectural roadmaps.
  • Lead stakeholders to consensus decisions.
  • Add value in the discovery and sales process.

Vashi said that required skills include opportunity development, business consulting and analysis techniques, finance, Cisco architectures/solutions/services, and architectural design and methodologies.

Topics covered in the new Cisco partner certification set and trainings include the following:

  • Identifying and engaging with the right stakeholders.
  • Understanding a customer's business priorities.
  • How to discover customer pain points and opportunities.
  • How Cisco products and services can deliver the relevant business results.
  • Creating a business case, including benefits, investments, costs and risks.

In all, Cisco is offering four courses and three certifications, including the Business Value Analyst prerequisite course, which addresses some fundamentals.

The new courses will be available through Cisco's business learning partners. Cisco is encouraging partners to get started early with the new certifications. Cisco's fiscal year 2014 channel partner incentives include a $2.5 million funding promotion for Cisco Learning credits and exam vouchers.

While the Cisco partner certifications are not initially required to sell products, they will be included within partner program requirements, according to Vashi.

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