There’s no company in technology that’s taken advantage of market transitions more often than Cisco. In almost every presentation that CEO John Chambers gives, he opines about how catching market transitions at the right time has been the primary vehicle for Cisco’s growth over the past few decades. In fact, one of my key research principals is that significant share gain can only be achieved during moments of market transition. For example, had Cisco tried to enter the legacy PBX market, I’m not sure they would have had any success. However, they hit the shift to VoIP at the right time and now they’re the market leader in telephony.
Catching market transitions has more to do with products, though. It’s about creating an ecosystem of support around the products. Cisco’s certification program is the best in the industry and has created an army of engineers that understand how to build networks “the Cisco way.” One of the staple certifications is the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), which is a stepping stone towards the highly coveted Cisco Certified Internetworking Engineer (CCIE).
This week, Cisco announced some updates to its CCNP for Routing and Switching to bring it in line with current market transitions. The company has added new topics to the curriculum, such as mobility, IPv6, and scaling the network to support IoE, as well as how to leverage APIs.
Cisco has also introduced a number of specialist certifications that can add key skills that are needed today, as business and IT become more tightly aligned. These new specializations will enable IT professionals to be better prepared as the current market transitions move from vision to a reality that all businesses need to deal with.
The Network Programmability Specialist certifications will provide engineers with the skills to take advantage of automation and keep up with the rapid changes in network design and automation. There will be four Network Programmability Certifications that address the various roles related to network programming. These include Business Application Engineer, Network Application Developer, Network Programmability Design Specialist and Network Programmability Engineer. This certification is being targeted not only at traditional network professionals but also software developers.
The Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist can be thought of as Cisco’s IoT-focused specialization. The curriculum focuses on addressing the skills gap that exists with IoT today and is targeted at the intersection of traditional IT, networking and plant control systems. This specialization is designed for network engineers as well as control system technicians. Cisco is estimating that over 200,000 IT will need to be added every year to bring IoT to scale, and the Industrial Networking Specialist is one step on the path to IoT.
Cisco is also introducing an Enterprise IT Business Specialist that provides IT individuals with the skills to understand how to map business goals to technical projects. This can help manage risk, prioritize projects, and communicate with other business leaders in financial terms. This is an important certification for any technical person looking to make a stronger contribution to business activities.
Cisco also introduced a Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) Training certification that provides skills to design, configure and deploy an effective customer collaboration solution with integrated cloud and mobility features, as well as APIs.
Cisco’s ability to capture market transitions has enabled it to maintain a leadership position in networking. The updates to the CCNP and new specializations should help Cisco and its customers be well-positioned as Cisco shifts from a network vendor to a broader IT solution provider.