Cisco Ventures Into 'Business Value' Certifications

Business Value Specialist workplace discussion

Cisco is venturing into a new certification realm in the area of what it calls "Digital Transformation," with a series of new Business Value Specialist certifications.


The driving force behind these certifications — which aim as much at Cisco employees and partners as they do at high-end enterprises with significant Cisco investment — is to develop a deep understanding of customer needs and pain points. BVS-certified individuals would then use their knowledge of Cisco products, platforms, and services to help to address these problems.


As such, this is a departure from the company's prior focus on technology and solutions. It represents an attempt to make sure that customers can realize a proper return on their investment in Cisco, and to make sure that such customers are extracting all the possible value from their existing investments.


Understanding Digital Transformation


Digital transformation is something of a buzzword at the moment, in both IT and business. It refers to the general and increasing transformation of business activities, processes, models, and skills/knowledge in order to take fullest possible advantage of digital technologies.


It also seeks to maximize the impact and value of such technologies across society at large, and to remake the business landscape strategically. Digital transformation prioritizes the use of digital technologies to add value and capability where it will do the most good.


A more contrarian view of digital transformation is suggested by FoodTV's recent mini-show "You're Eating It Wrong," which shows viewers better ways to do things than conventional wisdom and practice teaches. For example, viewers learn how how to stuff a taco, or make and consume falafel.


As applied to business, the "You're doing it wrong" approach seeks to teach and show consumers of digital technology more and better ways to put it to work. The particular emphasis is on how to make technology a servant of business, and a tool to improve business value. How can businesses maximize returns on technology investment, while simultaneously making the world a better place to live and work?


Cisco's attempts to improve customer understanding (and realization) of business value fall very much in this vein.


Cisco's Business Value Certifications


There are three current business value specialist credentials now on offer, each of which requires passing 1 or 2 exams, along with an additional "Success Manager" Specialist credential:


Business Value Specialist concept

Cisco Business Value Specialist requires exams 810-403 OUTCOMES (Selling Business Outcomes) and 820-424 BTASBVA (Applying Cisco Specialized Business Value Analysis Skills v3.0. This certification trains sales professionals to act as informed advisors to customers to help guide them through discussions involved in understanding and enacting digital transformation, and to assist them in reaching consensus on establishing and implementing business strategy and operating models, including an action plan and buy-in from key stakeholders.


Cisco Business Value Analyst requires only exam 810-403 OUTCOMES (Selling Business Outcomes). It seeks to identify sales professionals who understand how to craft and manage an outcome-focused sales approach, which translates into producing effective results in providing and positioning Cisco's various products, solutions, and services.


Cisco Business Value Practitioner Specialist requires only exam 840-525 BTEABVD (Executing Cisco Advanced Business Value Analysis and Design Techniques). This cert identifies sales professionals who know how to provide Cisco services, software, solutions and architectures to meet customer needs and fulfill their business strategies. It also ensures that such professionals can deliver a business case to back up their recommendations, along with a matching business roadmap and adoption plan.


Customer Success Manager (CuSM) Certification: takes the business value approach and methodology and focuses on driving adoption of Cisco provided service and subscription-based products, expanding the purview from software-driven business (their traditional stronghold) to businesses seeking to bolster competitiveness and effectiveness in our emerging digital economy. CuSM leverages the Cisco Adoption VALUE Framework, to help customers realize specific, desirable business outcomes from technology investment, and to ensure ongoing satisfaction with and renewal of service contracts. It's based on an instructor-led (physical or virtual classroom situations are supported) to prepare learners for this specialist credential. A single exam is required for this Specialist cert – namely: 820-602 DTCSM (Cisco Customer Success Manager Foundation; the exam is not yet available, but here's a link to the training page).


What Business Value Selling/Understanding Means for Cisco Customers


This emerging specialization might look like just another tool for Cisco in-house and partner sales staff, but it really represents more than that. While I don't think too many readers of this blog will find themselves pursuing such credentials, those of you who work with Cisco architectures, platforms, solutions, services, and so forth will undoubtedly start hearing about them and their work.


This will be likely to come from upper and middle managers who are getting involved with such staff, and learning how to think more effectively about IT as a business tool, and to put technology to work more efficiently and effectively. Cisco wants to change how they work with and help their customers, and how IT interacts with other business units to achieve successful business outcomes.


Can they teach management how to do this without too much toil, trouble, and strife? You'll be finding out in the months and years ahead.


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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.