Cisco: Channel needs more skills to compete

Cisco: Channel needs more skills to compete

Resellers need to change their skill sets if they are to compete in the evolving network market, according to Cisco's regional channel manager, Suzanne Hansen.

She pointed to the vendor's recently announced integrated services router (ISR) as an example of how the networking landscape is changing.

It contains firewall, routing, switching and VoIP functionality in a single box.

"Networking technology is gaining new relevance because it's getting smarter," Hansen said. "The networking solutions we have for security mandates that we have a good understanding of the desktop.

"We need to change the skill base of the resellers we have to make sure they understand the security and storage markets while, at the same time, identifying new partners that are already playing in that space."

One of the key training gaps that Hansen has identified and intends to address is centred on soft skills.

These, she said, included the ability to convey business benefits to customers rather than relying on technical specifications.

"Resellers need to be able to have executive conversations rather than network architect conversations," she said.

"They need to be playing at the business case level and we will be offering soft skills training this year to help them do that.

"Our goal is to get our resellers to a level where they can find deals for us rather than relying on us to throw leads over the fence."

Hansen also suggested there was a global shortage of highly skilled voice engineers.

Cisco plans to tackle this issue locally by running a series of 10 'boot camps' across Australia during the next six months.

She is also exploring the possibility of opening a training lab in Sydney where partners could sit three-day Cisco Certified Internetworking Engineer (CCIE) examinations.

CCIE is the networking giant's highest level of certification. Partners wanting to gain the certification currently have to fly to Europe or the US.

Promoted to her current position in October, having fulfilled the same role in the New Zealand market, Hansen said she wanted resellers to have more personal contact with the Cisco channel team.

In order to help do that, she is hoping to form a central operations team to look after administrative tasks. This, she said, would allow account managers to spend more time in the field with their dealers.

"The channel is a people business and we need to have that dialogue," she said.

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