CRN Exclusive: Cisco Launches 3 New Certifications And Training Programs For Partners

New Business Architecture Certifications

Cisco is unleashing a new round of certifications and training for the channel, designed to accelerate digital transformation for customers and stickiness for partners.

"There are huge sales opportunities that partners are missing out on every day if they're not ready to help a customer transform their business," said Tejas Vashi, senior director of product strategy and marketing for Cisco Services, in an interview with CRN. "We're really going to start moving all of our partners towards this business architecture of certifications … This is solving the bigger picture of customers wanting to achieve a business goal and tying it to the technology regardless of what the product is."

The three new certifications are all tied together with each cert representing a skill level: Analyst, Specialist and Practitioner. Cisco is also ending its Business Value certification program. Here's everything that partners need to know.

Business Architecture Analyst Certification

Cisco's new Business Architecture Analyst certification equips partners with a general awareness of business architecture principles and provides a methodology for uncovering a customers' business goals. A partner also learns how to then bridge the desired outcome to the technology solutions required to achieve their goals.

The Analyst certification is the first skill level, requiring IT professionals to pass one exam. The training and certification will become available for partners by the end of September.

"The Analyst certification really digs into what the customer is trying to achieve – what their business goals are – because many times those aren't very obvious," said Vashi. "Then to bridge those goals with IT solutions that are going to yield results."

Business Architecture Specialist Certification

After achieving the Analyst certification, partners can move to the next level of becoming a certified Cisco Business Architecture Specialist. IT professionals will need to pass one exam to achieve the certification.

The Specialist certification builds on the foundational skills and knowledge assessed at the Analyst level, but with a much greater focus on change management and the creation of a customized transformation roadmap. This certification will also become available for partners in September.

"This really gives the individual a step-by-step understanding in how to build a customer journey roadmap. So they can tell them, 'This is what's going to happen at the nine-month mark. Then at the 12-momth mark, you're going to do this. And along the way, here are the benefits for each step," said Vashi.

Business Architecture Practitioner Certification

The highest level of certification is Cisco's new Business Architecture Practitioner. Partners must pass the Specialist exam, as well as one Practitioner exam to achieve the certification.

The Practitioner certification expands upon the Specialist level by validating a candidate's mastery in leveraging tools, methodologies and best practices to bridge IT solutions with customer business goals. The ability to create and map out a customer engagement journey to deliver tangible business outcomes is also assessed. The certification will become available in November.

"You're mastering all of those things that really drive the complete digital transformation for that customer. Then you're also going to be able to measure the tangible business outcomes and the value at each step," said Vashi.

Training Courses

Cisco is providing training courses for each certification.

For the first-level Analyst certification, Cisco is offering 'Adopting the Cisco Business Architecture Approach' – a self-study E-learning course. The training for Specialist is dubbed, 'Applying Cisco Business Architecture Techniques,' which is a three dat instructor led course. Both trainings will be available for partners within the next 10 days.

For the Practitioner certification, Cisco is providing, 'Mastering the Cisco Business Architecture Discipline' -- a three-day instructor-led course starting in November.

Business Value Certifications No Longer Offered

With the launch of the three new certifications, Cisco is ending its trio of Business Value certifications which are also dubbed Analyst, Specialist and Practitioner. "The Business Value program, which is mandated within some of the channel programs right now, will no longer be offered," said Vashi.

Both the Business Value Analyst and Specialist certifications will come to a close on Dec. 14, 2017; while the Practitioner certification is set to end on Feb. 14, 2017.