RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Should Cisco Systems evolve over the next few years into a $40 billion-a-year revenue producer rather than $20-billion plus today, a major reason for the growth could be launched today at the networking giant’s RTP campus.
Cisco Chief Executive Officer John Chambers will be on hand this afternoon as Cisco unveils its new Education and Development Center.
With an investment of up to $14 million in infrastructure, up to 40 new jobs (including contractors) and a new corporate executive added in RTP, Cisco is opening the center that is designed to bolster the training and support of its own sales force and that of its global channel partners.
Scott Brown, a 10-year veteran of Cisco and vice president of worldwide sales support programs, moved to North Carolina recently to oversea the ramping up of the project. And in several ways, Brown is the “genesis” for Cisco’s effort to meet changing needs in a competitive, ever-changing sales environment.
“There were a number of things I was asked to do coming into this role, and one of the very important things is to develop a global strategy for out sales force of close to 11,000 people,” Brown tells Local Tech Wire. “My goal is to really invigorate the development of those individuals.
“We went through the downturn, when we were more focused on the tactical. Now, we are growing. Actually, we are above our revenues that we had at the top of the (2000-1) bubble. This gives us an opportunity to look ahead, to make an assessment of our employees, and to take a longer-term focus.”
Global Training Hub
That review led to the decision to launch the center, which will serve as Cisco’s global hub for onsite training. Cisco expects some 1,400 people to go through its boot camp and other training initiatives over the first six months.
The Center is located in Building 11, one of three that Cisco completed but did not occupy in the post-boom days of 2002. The Center covers some 37,000 square feet. (Building 11 is also the site of the new Credit Suisse data center.)
Brown wants to “reignite” education within Cisco. A veteran teacher in three different MBA programs, he says he “believes in the transformational power of education” and that the Center can help Cisco and its partners produce better-trained sales personnel with a program separate from day-to-day activities.
“We are creating an immersion facility where people can go to escape the corporate environment,” he adds. “Cisco is a very high-octane environment. The sales force needs a place to go, to get away. We have created a home for this. This will be fundamentally different from anything else in Cisco.”
From furniture to color schemes, space to rooms for role play, the Education and Development Center will serve as host to trainees in programs lasting a few to several days.
“It’s all about personal development,” Brown explains. “If we want to grow from a $24-25 billion company to a $35-40 billion company, it takes a long-term investment in our people. You can only go so far with technology, new equipment, and new markets.”
Meeting Customer Demand
Demands from customers are a major reason why the Center is being launched, he adds. Customers and channel partners want more information before making new hardware buys.
“It’s not just about technology buys any more,” Brown says. “It’s about convergence and applications. Sales people have to know how the technology can be applied in real-world situations. One of our new routers integrates security, firewall, all Internet Protocol functionality in one platform. Our sales force has to sell in a very integrated way.”
A sales person now must understand the different “layers” of functionality, such as switching and routing as well as telephony and wireless in order to close a deal.
“That’s a pretty tall order,” he says.
Programs include a sales masters series, which is a weeklong boot camp; a “partner” university with a multi-week curriculum; and shorter specific series such as one on security that lasts 2 ½ days.