Technology in the digital era is more complicated and connected than ever. The cloud. Mobility. Virtualization. Big Data. Analytics. IoT. The need for enhanced skills in technology is obvious, and there are many paths that tech professionals may take to brush up or expand their digital expertise.
In line with the digital transformation of business, there are several technology thrusts that are converging, altering the realm of the technology sale, indelibly shifting the landscape and relationship between vendor and customer.
First is the transition from the customer's IT organization driving the scoping and acquisition of IT solutions to different lines of business, such as marketing, operations or finance. Second is the increasing adoption of enterprise cloud-based solutions.
When the cost to deploy or evaluate is low, your goal as a vendor changes drastically. This low barrier to entry also brings a low switching cost, thus you are at risk of the next best thing displacing you, and losing the account. This highlights the need for vendors to create a customer success role (often called the customer success manager).
With these market factors in mind, Cisco has expanded its training and certification portfolio with offerings that enable its customers to optimize technology for successful digital business transformation.
Business Transformation Certifications
The current Business Value certifications, the first offerings in the business transformation portfolio, enhance learners' ability to work across customer lines of business. They enable IT organizations to understand motivations and desired business outcomes, help them to architect and implement an approach that delivers the expected value, and effectively communicate how the technology investments enable the corporation to meet its strategic business objectives.
These certifications enhance IT professionals' training and business skills through virtual instruction training and foundational business skills knowledge. Current offerings include Business Value Specialist, Business Value Analyst Specialist and Business Value Practitioner Specialist.
Cisco has a pipeline of role-oriented program extensions planned throughout the next year around innovation, digital marketing and technical project management that will help create the talent required to drive business transformation across the industry.
Customer Success Manager (CuSM) Certification
The next component of the business transformation portfolio is the new certification program addressing the CuSM role, a crucial position for driving adoption and value for service or subscription-based products.
While this has long been in practice for software-driven businesses, this mindset is now becoming table stakes for any business to be successful in today's digital economy.
The Cisco CuSM certification leverages the Cisco Adoption VALUE Framework, an award-winning process recognized by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) for innovation in strengthening customer relationships. The certification provides a core set of fundamental skills to help ensure that customers achieve the desired business outcomes through their technology investments, to increase and expand adoption and ensure that customers realize enough value to renew contracts, thereby reducing churn.
This includes a full instructor-led or virtual instructor-led program that will prepare learners for a certification exam at the specialist level.
The CuSM must be able to determine the actual business outcome that the customer expected from the purchase. Regardless of what was sold, the customer success role exists to ensure that the customer realizes the value that they expected. Other key functions of the CuSM role include:
Tracking KPIs — Monitoring performance, use and adoption, ensuring that the product is delivering value to the customer. The CuSM will report to the customer's leadership team and provide concrete evidence of the efficacy of the solution.
Managing Adoption — Keeping an eye on the actual use and looking for softness in the adoption of the product or service. If usage flags, it might be an indicator that the product isn't meeting needs or that a competitor is trying to gain a toehold. An effective CuSM will look for ways to increase usage and to drive additional seat or capacity sales.
Reduce Churn — The death of service-based products is losing customers. The acquisition costs can be relatively high, so preventing customers from leaving after a subscription ends is critical. Roadmap alignment, task analysis and writing the product/service into the plan of record, embedding the capability are key ways that a CSM can greatly improve the likelihood of renewal and expanding of scope. Happy customers, easy-to-use products and delivering tangible benefits will drive higher lifetime customer values.
The business transformation portfolio enables IT professionals to acquire critically needed skills as the digital shift continues. These skills will enhance employee value and create opportunities for advancement within the organization.
Skills are the bridge to digital transformation
Transformation enabled by cloud computing, IoT, analytics, agile data centers, cybersecurity, mobility, ubiquitous access and the programmable network is only part of the equation. In addition to technology, workforce talent is key. Successful programs require involvement of stakeholders from beyond IT — and from other areas of the organization — who bring different perspectives.
The evolution of job roles in the digital age requires new skills, and Cisco continues to empower this evolution with its continually updated and new training and certification offerings.