**Editor's Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**
The customer conversation is changing. And channel partners know this perhaps better than anyone. No longer are you getting purchase decisions just from IT departments. These days, executives from other departments – financial, operational, even HR – have to weigh in, too.
To keep up with the changes, Cisco this week rolled out new certifications and training. The Business Transformation series shifts from a hardware sales focus to one of solving business problems. It's about "how to understand what business decision makers are trying to accomplish," said Tejas Vashi, director of product management at Cisco.
At some point, the new curriculum will become a requirement for earning Cisco partner status.
"We will make it a mandate down the road," said Vashi.
For now, Cisco is developing fiscal year 2014 incentives to spur partners to take the certification and training. The company announced earlier this year at its Partner Summit that it will invest $2.6 million worldwide on Business Transformation efforts. Costs will vary. The business analyst course, for example, carries a list price of about $1,500. The business value practitioner ranges between $3,000 and $4,000.
There are three Business Transformation certificates. Course topics will include identifying and engaging the right stakeholders; understanding the customer's business strategy and priorities; strategic questioning for discovering pain points and opportunities.
Exams and training are available now; register through Pearson VUE, Cisco's main test delivery partner.