Cisco Prioritizes Re-Skilling the IT Workforce in a Prime Directive
Cisco prioritizes re-skilling the IT workforce in a prime directive announced at this year’s Cisco Live U.S. event in San Diego. The company unveiled brand-new learning and certification programs aimed at re-skilling the IT workforce. These revisions enable network engineers to develop their skills and to engage with new communities. The associate level network engineering certification, or CCNA, is now a single certification covering all major technology areas. CCNP for senior professionals offer a choice of five tracks – enterprise, service providers, data center, security, and collaboration. The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), will expand to ensure experts can design and optimize implementations. Read more about the new programs here.
Analyst Take: Taking concrete steps toward re-skilling the IT workforce is a smart move on Cisco’s part. A recent McKinsey Global Institute Report suggests that as many as 375 million workers will need to switch their careers due to the consequences of automation (e.g., robotic process automation), artificial intelligence (AI), and digital transformation. The report compares the shift as parallel to the disruption in the workforce in the early 20th century, when many jobs shifted from the agricultural segment to manufacturing.
Moreover, according to AI Trends, almost 25 percent of businesses surveyed have implemented cognitive technologies such as AI or machine learning, either as pilot projects or as long-term strategies. For instance, some 41 percent are using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) extensively or across multiple functions of their business and those numbers are growing at a rapid clip. Read more about this in my colleague, Fred McClimans’ recent article: “Right Way to Think About RPA – It’s Good for Everyone.”
We see smart companies using RPA and other AI-driven automated processes as an opportunity to expand—businesses need to realize that new capabilities like RPA and AI are an opportunity to determine how much they can grow, as well as how rapidly that growth might be able to be accomplished.
They are also using RPA, operational automation, and AI to augment their existing talent, such as IT, and enabling them to do more (at a higher level). Ethical responsibility as it relates to workforce automation is critical, particularly as it relates to displacing workers. RPA and re-skilling workers for automated processes are best considered as pairing humans with technology for maximum benefit of the organization. Work processes can be streamlined, efficiencies realized, and jobs can be less focused on mundane, repeatable tasks, workers can add exponentially more value and probably enjoy their jobs more in the process.
As a result, Cisco boosts its strategic business growth objectives by taking a proactive approach to the IT workforce by re-skilling workforce with upgrades in education programs and new certifications. The approach bolsters its overall differentiation as digital transformation rivals like Juniper, Ericsson, and Nokia have not proactively developed re-skilling initiatives or programs.
Cisco also needs to consider developing an IT Workforce Index that uses metrics to validate how well its own, as well as industry-wide re-skilling initiatives, are preserving jobs and enabling the workforce to fulfill strategic digital business objectives while lowering cultural resistance to digital transformation. A Cisco IT Workforce Index, emulating its widely influential industry indexes such as the Visual Networking Index and Global Cloud Index, can go a long way toward reassuring workforces that digital transformation can drive augmenting their skill sets in order to expand or take on new roles within their organizations.
The original version of this article was first published on Futurum Research.
Photo credit: Cisco
Ron is an experienced research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets. He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including software and services, infrastructure, 5G/IoT, AI/analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.