Cisco Certified Community Passes Milestone

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More than 50,000 Cisco certified individuals have signed up to take advantage of the company’s online bundle of free services, including learning games, webcast shows, certification updates, forums and other special offers, Cisco Systems Inc. announced. These benefits, which are offered exclusively to Cisco certification holders, are available on Cisco’s Certification Community Web site, a free knowledge-sharing portal launched last year.

Cisco Systems’ Senior Manager of Certifications Don Field said the number of Certification Community members demonstrated a high level of interest in raising awareness and knowledge of new products, programs and technologies. “It tells me that those folks who have earned a Cisco certification are genuinely interested in things about Cisco certifications because they may well be seeking additional certifications with us,” he said. “They’re interested in continuing to grow their capabilities in their chosen field or fields of endeavor. This provides an opportunity for that.”


The benefits the company offers to its certification holders, along with the quality of Cisco products and the reputation of its credentialing programs, were major selling points, Field said. “We recognize that those folks are making an investment, and we felt that there were things that we could do to provide additional tangible benefits that would support those individuals that made that investment. The Cisco Certification Community embodies a number of those benefits. It’s a combination of services we provide to members of our community.”


“All of these folks that are signed up on this community are, of course, certified, and anybody who’s certified has made an investment in learning,” added Nader Nanjiani, Cisco Systems’ marketing programs manager. “They also understand that in order to stay current in the field of networking, they’re going to do this on a regular basis. What we want to do is create a place where they can go and get direction, guidance, input, information, feedback on how to plan lifelong learning, not only from individuals and support people from Cisco, but also from each other.”


Learning games, one of the newest and most popular features, uses an entertaining, videogame-type format to introduce users to advanced technologies. These include a game in which users assemble a Cisco network on Mars using a rover, as well as a game requiring users to quickly install firewalls and anti-virus software in the correct position as animated “attacks” invade a network. “We give information tidbits that will help learning and training,” Nanjiani said. “If you play a game, it’s entertainment, but there’s also a little learning along the way.”


Another benefit is “Certification Connect,” a live Web show broadcast monthly, whereby viewers can submit questions to a panel of certification experts and have those questions answered live. Show topics cover program areas such as labs for the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification, written exams, recertification and certification tracks. The show is hosted by Nanjiani, and Field is the one mainstay on a three-person panel of experts. (The other two rotate according to the subject under discussion.)


As the Cisco Certification Community grows in number and areas of interest, so will the benefits, Field and Nanjiani said. “When we think about what kinds of benefits we might offer in the future, we’re doing it with an eye toward what the kinds of things the people who are certified really want,” Field said. “We listen a lot. For us, listening is an active process.”


“We evaluate everything we do,” Nanjiani added. “The nature of the medium is interactive. We do get feedback from our customers and we can measure quantitatively and qualitatively. It’s something that’s constantly giving us direction.”


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