With architectures being all the buzz, we held an informative Channels Chat live broadcast “How to Thrive with Cisco Architectures” to learn how partners can win big with Cisco’s architectures.
Fellow blogger Alex Krasne hosted and moderated the session which featured a lively, informative discussion among guests Andres Sintes, Global Director of Cisco’s Worldwide Learning Partner Channel; and Cisco Learning Partners George Churchwell, CEO of Tech2000 and Pat Bodin, CEO of Firefly.
Andres, George, and Pat discussed how partners can take advantage of Cisco’s architecture-based solutions. Then our guests shared tips on how partners can maximize the Return on Investment (ROI) of their architectural deployments by leveraging authorized Cisco training from Cisco Learning Partners. Lastly, they rounded out the broadcast by answering audience questions.
Missed the broadcast? Watch the replay below.
Keep reading for a full text summary with timestamps identifying the key tips shared during the broadcast and links to important resources and info.
0: 25 -- What is Cisco’s Worldwide Learning Partner Program?
Andres kicked off the broadcast by giving an overview of Cisco’s Worldwide Learning Partner Program. He explained that Learning Partners train all of Cisco’s customers and channel partners worldwide and are key catalysts for the growth and professional development of over 1 million Cisco certified engineers.
1:20 – What prompted the program to change its focus to architectures?
Andres said that a few things prompted the program to change its focus to architectures.
- The evolution of Cisco moving from products and technologies to solutions and architectures was in support of helping channel partners and customers.
- Two tracks were added to the Cisco Learning Partner Program. Cisco Learning Partners in the Learning Partner Associate track focus on core technology training and preparing end-users for career certification. Cisco Learning Partners in the Learning Partner Specialized track focus on advanced technology skills and capabilities as well as Cisco architecture skills.
- We’ve noticed a trend in our Cisco Learning Partners moving into one of these two tracks and they’re ensuring that they are differentiating their offers and providing the most value to our channel partners and helping customers maximize their investment.
2:47 -- Why should partners consider pursuing an architectural specialization?
It is critical for our channel partners to acquire new skills as Cisco evolves its products and services to map to our customer’s enterprise architectures, according to Andres. Partners need to have the right skills to best identify opportunities at a customer’s enterprise architecture level so that they can better position themselves and provide greater value.
3:42 -- What is Cisco’s Worldwide Learning Partner Channel doing to make this transition easy for partners?
Cisco Learning Partners started their evolution towards architecture specializations approximately a year ago. Our global Learning Partners are ready to deliver the training and business skills needed to make this transition easy for our Channel Partners and customers.
5:03 – What is the Business Acceleration Learning Partner Program?
This is the newest Cisco Learning Partner Program. Cisco Learning Partners in the Learning Partner Business Acceleration track focus on the business relevancy of the technology. The objective of this program is to recruit worldclass training companies to deliver on key skills to help channel partners accelerate their business and practice.
Then, Andres directed some questions to Cisco Learning Partners Pat Bodin and George Churchwell.
6:10 – Pat, in addition to being one of the first Specialized Learning Partners, Firefly was also the first Cisco Learning Partner to become a Business Acceleration Learning Partner. Why did Firefly choose this path?
It was natural progression for Firefly to become a Business Acceleration Learning Partner. Two of its lines of businesses map directly to the Business Acceleration Learning Partner Program. This program gives Firefly the ability to build consultants around the world that map functional needs to technical needs. Learn how Firefly can accelerate your go-to-market strategy.
9:25 – George, can you tell us why Tech2000 choose to become a Specialized Learning Partner?
Tech2000 wanted to focus beyond certifications and go into the Borderless Networks, Collaboration, and Data Center areas that partners needed to get certifications in. It’s also important that their instructors had the base knowledge needed to be able to support the partner’s customer base and their sales representatives in the field.
10:25 – I see that you have a Cisco Cius with you, can you tell us more about that?
George’s company has taken its education knowledge and put it into a mobile platform allowing the partners to have information at their fingertips. Mobile apps mean a salesperson can have a quick brush up on a course they’ve already taken and go directly into a meeting to deliver their elevator pitch. Learn more about Tech2000′s Cisco Certification On-The-Go.
11:36 -- Pat, can you tell us a bit about Firefly’s approach to delivering training?
One of the philosophies within Firefly is that all of the trainers must have expert skills in design, deployment, and migration within the technologies that they are teaching. Firefly is also a big fan of WebEx and has proven that we can achieve the same results by training via WebEx as in person.
14:30 -- George, would you like to add anything to that?
George advised partners to take advantage of Cisco Learning Credits which can be used to purchase mobile devices such as the Cisco Cius to go along with your training.
16:02 -- What advice would you give to channel partners looking to pursue an architectural solution?
For partners to be successful, Pat said it is critical that they differentiate themselves on architectures. He thinks that partners should start now so that they don’t get left behind.
Partners can increase margin opportunities with solutions that allow a larger pull-through of more equipment that would be available in the sale, according to George. Additionally, you can have services revenue supporting the configurations along with that offering.
Our guests then moved on to answer viewer questions.
17:52 -- What flexible training options are available for partners?
Tech2000′s WebEx-type deliveries can be offered over longer periods of time than the typical condensed week and the company can design certification programs to span multiple weeks. Also available are combinations of e-learning and mentoring programs for those who want to do self-paced training.
Pat added that Firefly drives towards experience-based learning and can work closely with the partner to provide the right amount of training specifically for the partner needs and the needs of their customers. Firefly is also able to combine on migrations and deployments to create a flexible learning model.
After chatting with Andres, Pat, and George, we turned to the audience questions we received on Twitter and Facebook.
19:09 -- What’s the difference between a specialized partner and a non-specialized partner?
Specialized Learning Partners focus on advanced technology training as well as training along the lines of the Cisco architectures, Andres explained. Non-specialized partners, also known as Associate Learning Partners, focus on core technology skills and Cisco career certifications.
19:52 -- How can I, as a partner, improve the ROI of my architectural deployments?
Pat shared that Firefly has measured its business acceleration activities and for its spend, Firefly is getting 50x returns on investment.
20:43 -- Is training required for partners to adapt architectural specializations?
In order for Cisco partners to become specialized, Andres said, they do need to have the skills and Cisco provides all channel partners with different methods for acquiring these skills. Learning Partners are available to simplify the process and help you along the way.
23:23 -- What are the most important skills for channel partners to possess?
The most important skill for a channel partner, Pat said, is to possess is the ability to create functional skills in the segments that they work in. This is a key differentiator.
24:48 – How can I create revenue opportunities by training my customers?
George said that you can create revenue opportunities by running a practice and reselling through organizations like Tech2000 and Firefly. Learning Partners can come in and operate as the partner’s professional services delivery or the partner can integrate and become a Learning Partner themselves. Pat added that using education to drive customers to do something (like buy) is much more profitable.
26:06 -- Why is training through Cisco Authorized Learning Partners superior to cheaper, non-authorized training?
Cisco Authorized Training is of Cisco quality, Andres said. He believes in the partnership that Cisco has with its network of Cisco Learning Partners and is confident that the quality is top notch. Pat added that Cisco is by far the most innovative Learning Partner program of any OEM in the world.
Furthermore, George mentioned that non-authorized training doesn’t offer anything beyond the CCNA realm and if you saw anything in the architectural area, you wouldn’t be getting the labs or the skilled instructors that Cisco Authorized Learning Partners offer.
27:23 -- Are Learning Partners available to my firm, we operate in a small office in the middle of nowhere?
Mobile technologies allow partners, wherever they are, to have everything that would be offered in a major metropolitan area right at their fingertips, George said. Pat adds that WebEx also allows partners to tune in remotely.
28:15 – Are there training partners that work globally?
There are several Cisco Learning Partners with a global presence, according to Andres. There are also Learning Partners located in more than 130 countries worldwide.
A lot was covered in those 30 minutes! Would you like even more information? Check out these key links:
- Cisco Learning Partner Program
- Training for architectural solutions from Cisco Learning Partners
- Cisco Architectural Training and Certifications for Channel Partners
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