Cisco adds to its Masters certifications program

To help channel partners further differentiate themselves through advanced skill sets, Cisco Systems has introduced the Master Unified Communication Specialization.

The new specialization is the second in a planned series of badges for Cisco partners that want to take a deeper dive into specific technology areas.

In September, the vendor launched the Master Security specialization after introducing the concept to channel partners at its annual Cisco Partner Summit in March.

This specialization targets channel partners with in-depth technology skills and a proven track record of customer success in selling, deploying and supporting Cisco Unified Communication solutions.

Though there is a degree of organic growth for partners in this space, the real value comes from driving and servicing the voice, data and video applications that make up unified communications, according to Richard McLeod, director of unified communications for worldwide channels at Cisco Systems.

“Services are key and the most successful partners represent services as 40-50 per cent of their revenues,” said McLeod. “The integration, optimization and monitoring of those applications is where the money is for partners.”

Leading edge customers are becoming more innovative and using unified communications as a strategic advantage, added McLeod. “Those customers are looking for the next level of validation from vendors and the next level of performance from partners,” prompting Cisco to move toward this masters program, he said.

With this in mind, McLeod noted, partners need to shift their roles and become a trusted business advisor as the conversations are now taking place inside boardrooms with top-level executives.

“The scope, breadth and depth around unified communications and its services becomes more significant as many more customers are putting their strategic business success into the hands of this breakthrough technology.”

Glenn Mowat, president and chief operating officer of Unis Lumin, has seen the conversations with his customers changing over the last six to 12 months.

The Oakville-Ont.-based Cisco partner, which specializes in unified communications solutions, has noticed that customers are now looking for the business reasons to adopt the unified communication applications and services.

“We’re capitalizing on those discussions by encouraging customers to think about how this technology will affect their own customers,” said Mowat. “From our perspective, as a Cisco partner, the (masters) recognition is key to us and is altering how we’re working with customers.”

According to Rick Graham, area vice-president of channels at Cisco Systems Canada, between 10 to 20 per cent of partners in Canada are expected to attain the masters level in unified communications.

“We’ll have about six to seven masters partners in Canada,” said Graham.

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