When Cisco invests in partner enablement, it intends to provide assets to maximize profitability and productivity. In fact, we have seen this in practice with partners that have invested in Black Belt enablement in the following way: 30% Black Belt certified employees realize a 10% year/year average increase in bookings all the way to 50% employee certifications yielding a 26% average increase in booking versus peers [1]. We want to ensure that the Cisco partner’s practices create (and the professionals that occupy these practices) the best experiences, which will contribute to excellent customer interactions. To this end, Cisco partners use the Black Belt Academy to gain skills and knowledge to generate customer opportunities.

The Cisco Black Belt Academy is a simplified enablement framework built to help partner sales and engineers learn Cisco’s competitive advantage and how Cisco solutions stack up against the competition.

Some ask the difference with other certifications such as CCIE. CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) is one of many technical foundation certifications. It certifies that the holder has expert-level knowledge of networking across various architectures, while Black Belt provides free the on-going sales/pre-sales, CX, Operations, and ongoing technical training on the latest Cisco Technology. Together, Black Belt and Cisco technical foundation certifications, like CCIE, are strategic to providing a positive end-to-end customer experience.

This year, there have been considerable updates to the learning maps for many different roles (see table below). As you can see, we cover topics from the C-suite to the support and all roles in between. This role-based enablement approach can benefit anyone directly contributing to great customer interactions.

Cisco’s Black Belt Academy framework has three stages of competency, to learn, apply, and succeed by implementing these role-based journeys. Cisco places a high focus on Apply (Stage 2) and Succeed (stage 3), since these demonstrate the highest level of certified proficiency that customers have come to appreciate. Also, it supports a path to higher value returns from additional partners services.

Cisco has prioritized Black Belt content toward our customers’ biggest opportunities to power hybrid work, secure operations, transform their infrastructure (aligned to Unified Experiences), and reimagine applications. We do this by providing solutions in hybrid work, hybrid cloud, SASE, security, and full-stack observability.

We have automated and placed in the hands of Black Belt Academy participants the ability to gain all the benefits in a self-paced format that includes quiz completion. We have also listened and created alternatives to deal ID/SO requirements for completion of stage two requirements. Specifically, a perfect  pitch video, proof of concept, or high-level design can achieve stage completion.

Another area where we have listened and delivered a solution to partners is in the area of reporting. Now, all partner activity with Black Belt Academy can be viewed within PXP (or sometimes with assistance from their PAM). Since all data is linked in PXP, partners will also receive recommendations on maximizing the Black Belt Academy to support their future growth goals.

Through the Black Belt Hub, you can also see motivational programs, such as Shogun, exam vouchers, or creatively think about combining Black Belt Academy with other activities. Discover how one partner combined Black Belt and giving back to their community to create passion and motivation.

General information can be found on our public cisco.com site for the Black Belt Academy. Current Cisco partners can find deeper details by going to SalesConnect and logging in to the Black Belt Hub.

We are excited by the milestones we are working toward to empower partners by fully automating and integrating our shared value chains that will lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, stay tuned!


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1 Cisco Black Belt Data Academy data analysis, for Q2’FY22-Q2FY23


Jose van Dijk

VP, EMEA Partner Sales & Routes to Market and Partner Performance and Experience (acting)

Global Partner and Routes to Market Sales