If you asked our customers and partners what their most important asset is these days you’d get a variety of answers. Everything from infrastructure to real estate to mission-critical applications. To Bell Canada, one asset you can’t overlook is your people. Their philosophy is investing in people will always pay positive dividends. While investing in people may seem like common sense, Bell has taken this to the next level and has streamlined and optimized the development of their Sellers and Solutions Architects. How have they done this you ask? One way is by leveraging Cisco’s premiere architecture enablement platform, the Cisco Black Belt Academy.

Bell and Cisco. A Long-Standing Partnership.

Bell Canada, a leading Canadian provider for telecommunication services, has been a Gold Partner with Cisco Canada for decades and has always been amongst the top tier partners amongst our roughly 1,800 partners across the country. Year after year, Bell and Cisco have had significant joint success, recognized for consecutive years during Cisco Partner Summit. In 2018, Bell was recognized by Cisco for being the #1 overall partner in the Americas and has been Canada’s Partner of the Year for two years running.

“Over the course of many years, Bell has been well aligned to Cisco because of our tremendous synergy as a value-added reseller – a relationship that covers many different domains of the business. Our mutual expertise includes Network, Security, Cloud, Voice/Unified Communications and the Internet of Things,” commented Errol Fernandes, who leads Bell’s Enterprise Architecture teams as he addresses the partnership.

Ever evolving technology and staying current

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant is change.” Little did Heraclitus know that this would be the theme of our decade. The rate at which our customers’ needs continue to evolve is unprecedented. And as we have all witnessed, technology vendors and providers need to adapt quickly to continuously deliver the same best-in-class experience that customers have come to expect.

Fernandes reminds us “our technical team prioritizes staying current on the latest technology, and that includes the most recent Cisco software solutions. The Bell team has always been extremely diligent at getting the standardized certifications that Cisco offers (CCIE, CCNA etc.), and with  Cisco’s continual acquisition approach – to expand and integrate the latest technologies to solidify each portfolio – our technical sales team of almost 300 resources always needs to upskill.” This is where the Cisco Black Belt Academy aims to help in keeping partners current.

cisco blackbelt academy

Cisco Black Belt and Developing Expertise

The Cisco Black Belt program is an enablement framework consisting of carefully curated training content, that Cisco employs in ensuring its Sales and Technical teams are well versed on the latest technologies and solutions. This framework, has allowed Cisco’s Channel Partners like Bell to integrate directly into their existing training programs. Bell in many ways, has led this charge and has rolled out Black Belt to train its roughly 300 technical and sales team members.

By leveraging the Cisco Black Belt program, Bell has been able to carefully create custom development plans that align to specific roles within the Technical Sales team within Bell Business Markets. These development plans were curated early in 2020 and went through multiple planning revisions before a successful implementation of a pilot program.

In this pilot, a group of 16 Solution Architects from various practices completed role-specific training content. At the end of the pilot the solutions architects gave a 4 star+ rating for overall user experience and content relevancy; which is outstanding for this type of pilot. Rami Al Saber, one of the pilot participants says “I believe it is a great tool for various sales teams and technical sales teams to try, as it has great learning tools.”

Because of the dynamic nature of the framework and the practical way individuals are certified – typically through proof of concepts, a solution sale or customer design – Bell is confident in the quality of the training and enablement. By partnering with Cisco and investing in their people with the Black Belt Academy, Bell is very well positioned to navigate through these uncertain times, and accelerate their business.

Learn more about the Black Belt Academy here:  https://cs.co/goblackbelt


Seth Greenlaw

Senior Engineering Manager

Cisco Americas Partner Organization.