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Creating a New Skills Framework for the Digital Economy

In today’s hyper-connected economy, every company is a digital business. Technology professionals play an integral role in driving business outcomes, and that requires a new skills framework. There are new demands for IT expertise in a changing technology environment. For the individual, rapid change is driving the need for continuous skills refresh. For the enterprise, technology expertise must link to business outcomes. For the industry, a new skills framework is needed to develop cross-technology and cross-functional leaders.

The IT jobs of the future are being defined now, but many organizations and individuals are being left in the lurch. In fact, a report from the MIT Center for Digital Business Research found that nearly 80 percent of companies consider missing digital skills to be the key hurdle to digital business transformation.

To overcome this hurdle and stay ahead of disruption, a broader perspective is required – one that goes beyond the traditional infrastructure model. It’s a view not limited to just a network topology or architecture discussion, but rather, one that looks to the opportunities made available through evolving technologies. Additionally, organizations must be able to use these emerging technology trends to drive business outcomes.

Raising the Bar

That’s why Cisco is evolving its certification program to ensure that candidates are prepared for new and changing job roles that unfold with emerging technologies.

Core technology expertise is essential, of course, but practical IT expertise in a single, siloed technology area is no longer a differentiator. IT professionals also must have a clear understanding of the evolving and disruptive technologies that are fueling innovation.

With this evolution of the career certification program, Cisco is ensuring IT professionals are equipped with the skills and education needed for evolving technologies such as Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and network programmability. Read More »

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Meeting the demand for Cloud technology skills

What makes the cloud such an attractive option for enterprises? The cloud empowers IT to act as a broker of business critical IT services. It helps the organization become a more proactive player that can aggregate, integrate, and customize the delivery of cloud services to meet specific business needs. Instead of working in a technology vacuum or owning the entire IT value chain, IT can make build or buy decisions in the context of IT services sourcing recommendations. Meet critical business objectives

Businesses in every industry are rapidly embracing the cloud. They want the agility, security, and performance that cloud technology delivers. And they want the flexibility to deploy their choice of workloads securely to the cloud. This growing demand for cloud services is creating new opportunities for cloud providers and driving new job roles and responsibilities.

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4+1 Practices for Effective Lifelong IT Learning (Part 2)

Happy with how you go about learning, or wish you could learn more, learn more quickly, and even just do it? Today’s post continues what was begun in the previous post, namely a list of good practices to consider to improve how you go about learning throughout your IT career.

The previous post set up the issues, and made two broad suggestions:

  • Continuously learn more about learning and study, practice what you learn, and improve
  • Research and improve note-taking skills for each type of notes you take

Today’s post adds two more practices to the list, with a renewed request that you add your suggestions as well. Today, we’ll examine one type of short-term tactical goal setting with SMART goals, plus a much-neglected study activity: thinking about what you already studied.

3) Start Each Week w/ Achievable SMART Goals

Have you ever finished a week with this thought?

“I failed to make as much progress as I would have liked to make with what I’m learning right now.”

Many factors, both controllable and uncontrollable, affect whether we meet our goals. This next practice helps us achieve our short-term goals by setting and reviewing SMART learning goals weekly, every week.

WO-Cisco-2015-03-fig4 Read More »

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4+1 Practices for Effective Lifelong IT Learning (Part 1)

The debate of what we should be learning seems to be a more frequent topic today. For instance, there’s been a long-standing question for each new networker: after learning a little about routing and switching, does a relative newbie dive deep into route/switch? Move on to learn voice? Or security? Data Center? Or for emerging technologies like SDN, should we learn SDN as defined by the Open Networking Foundation, or ACI, or both? Should we build programming skills to become network programmers, or programming for network automation, or stick with traditional config/verify/troubleshooting skills?

So we can talk to coworkers and discuss/argue about what technologies we should learn… but then we all seem to agree that learning throughout our careers is hugely important. (In fact, the day I was wrapping up this blog post, the Cisco Champion podcast included several people making that very same point, in agreement.) And then we stop talking about learning, because we all agree. We agree that learning is important, and don’t talk about how to learn effectively.

Our long-term career prospects depend in part on learning about existing and emerging technology. But how good are our learning skills? Are we happy with the results? How can we get better at learning?

Today’s post begins a 2-part post that offers a top 4+1 list of answering that last question: how do we get better at learning? Rather than us just agreeing that learning is important, and moving on, let’s treat the process of learning as an important process, and learn how to do it better. Read More »

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How Cisco Certifications Landed Me the Coolest Job in South Florida; Literally

When I started with my first Cisco router back in 1995, I never would have imagined I would someday be the technology lead for an ice arena of an NHL team. I also would never have predicted the impact that having a Cisco certification would have on being recruited to that position.

Most of my career up until now was spent working in the small and medium business space, primarily on ISP and telecom space working with voice and networks with some software and infrastructure design in the middle. Cisco was a large part of everything that I did from routing and switching to voice over frame relay followed by voice over IP, with a large emphasis on small bandwidth efficiency and signalling. I’m even the lead inventor on an issued patent relating to intelligent rerouting of fax traffic on VoIP systems.

I never thought much about certifications. I have a BA in Economics which has served me well as a business owner and largely found all my work via word of mouth. There were not a lot of people who understood VoIP payload and signalling tuning, starting from the MC3810 and up through the as5300/as5800 series. This was primarily in international carrier / wholesale VoIP traffic and engineering.

As VoIP became more of a commodity good and the cost of equipment came down, this market dried up. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to Cisco exiting that market, which proved to be a good decision. As my clients and partners moved on to other ventures and I was forced to begin prospecting.

Suddenly, here I was with 30 years since I’d written my first program and roughly 20 years of internet and Cisco experience and I was struggling. I had a lot of experience, but didn’t have a portfolio of work that included any big names, mostly small businesses that no one had heard of. I needed a way to give new clients the confidence to call me. I knew that once I started the conversation, I could close the deal. Before that, however, I needed to actually get that call or email. Read More »

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