Saturday, September 22, 2012

Changing the Mindset with CCIE93

Some portions of this writing was submitted for my MBA assignment. I like the idea of learning by doing. Study MBA, execute my ideas to launch the social business, then analyze it as part of the MBA assignment :)

About CCIE93

CCIE93 program, created by the author, is the world first’s community based mentoring program to help its members to prepare for CCIE certification exam. CCIE93 offers a self-pace learning methodology, by giving instruction to the members to study only one specific item a day, with guidance from CCIE as mentors, and when 93 days of instruction are completed, the members are expected to be ready to take CCIE lab exam. CCIE93 program relies on the community consist of students who want to learn, and CCIEs who act as the mentors. At the time of this writing, CCIE93 program has run for several weeks and currently there are 12 active CCIEs as mentor for about 50 CCIE candidates. CCIE93 is currently available only for Indonesians.

About CCIE and Cisco Systems

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is the highest level of technical networking certification offered by Cisco Systems. It is well known and accepted worldwide as the most prestigious and the toughest networking certification in the industry. For years, CCIE has been listed as the best IT certification from several third-party websites including IT Certification Master (Burnjeko 2012), and it is considered as expert certifications that command the highest salary in IT industry (Crisp360 2012).

Cisco Systems is the leading networking company that has dominated the global market for networking equipment since it was founded in 1984. It is estimated that nearly 70 percent of the Internet runs on Cisco equipment (Rhéaume 2012). Cisco Senior VP and General Manager for Routing group shared the ACG’s 1Q2012 market share report: “Cisco has gained core routing market share in seven straight quarters (and 12 of the last 13 quarters), and edge routing market share four of the last five quarters” (Panditi 2012).

The impressive number of Cisco’s market share means: more jobs in networking are related to Cisco equipment, and more people need to be certified with Cisco certification especially CCIE in order to design, operate and maintain Cisco equipment.

Consumer Analysis

The target consumer for CCIE93 program is obviously the IT engineers who work in computer networking industry. According to Cisco website (Cisco 2012) only less than 3% of all certified Cisco professionals holds CCIE certification, and this number is less than 1% of the networking professionals worldwide. Cisco has not released the latest number of CCIE holders, but the latest CCIE presentation from Cisco Live (Van de Werve 2012) said roughly 30,000 individuals ever certified. A simple calculation from the above results on estimated number of 1,000,000 non-CCIE certified Cisco professionals, and about 3,000,000 networking professionals worldwide. It is considered a big market segment.

Even with huge number of potential consumer, as mentioned by Baines (2012) we should consider the consumer proposition acquisition process while developing the marketing plan. With Cisco Systems as the market leader in networking equipment worldwide, the motive to become CCIE is obviously to be recognized with the expert network engineering skills and mastery of Cisco products and solutions. The evaluation and selection process can be simplified since there is no other alternative for mentoring program, especially with the price range as discussed in Marketing Mix section. And once the consumer purchases the product (i.e. join the program) the re-evaluation process can begin with comparing with similar product from the competitor, which is very limited at the time of this writing.

Blue Ocean and Target Market

Instead of trying to compete in the same market segment with the current solutions i.e. Bootcamp classroom and online training model from competitors, CCIE93 decided to use Blue Ocean Strategy described by Kim and Maugborne (2011) to disrupt the market by plugging a new idea of online mentoring program into uncontested market space.

The latest count for the total number of Indonesian CCIEs is only 132. The author is a CCIE himself and passed the lab exam in 2001 as the 18th CCIE in the country. This means within 11 years in average only 10 individuals from Indonesia passed the lab exam. 132 Indonesian CCIEs in total is very less compare to more than 8,000 CCIEs in Asia region.

One of main reasons why the author is focusing on Indonesians as the target market is due to his social responsibility; he has tried to boost the number of Indonesian CCIEs for many years by sharing his personal experience over social media and virtual meeting, and finally decided to use CCIE93 as different approach to achieve his personal objective.

Marketing Mix

Marketing mix is defined as a set of four decisions needs to be taken before launching any new product (Bhasin 2011), which are Product, Price, Place and Promotion, known as the 4 P’s of marketing.

Product – the product is an online mentoring program where the members or the students can access the course material over the Internet to study at his own pace. The course materials are mainly tutorial video, reading materials, quizes and practice labs supplied by the partner, and it is suitable for the self-pace learning method. Everyday the members receive specific instruction to learn one specific item, and when 93 days of instruction are completed they are expected to be ready to take CCIE lab exam. There are mentors, who are already CCIE, available to answer any queries and to track the progress of each member.

Price – the analysis to define the right pricing model has gone into several iterations. The main consideration is the price range from the alternative solutions, but at the same time whatever price to be offered has to be affordable for Indonesians.

Place – the mentoring program uses online learning platform where both students and mentors can log in anytime and from anywhere. Member can see the learning instruction for the day, and it is up to him or her to complete the instruction immediately or not. Only after he or she completes the instruction for that day he would be able to access the instruction for the next day. The mentors use the same platform to answer the questions and track the progress. The communication between the students and mentors is the key of the program.

Promotion – the promotion was only mainly over email to several communities of IT engineers from Indonesia. The unique and new idea of CCIE93 can be considered as “an offer you can’t refused” by Chris Guillebeau (2012) since the value of the program can be seen clearly and outweigh the price, and there is no direct competition that can come close.

Changing the Mindset

As described in Steven Blank’s Four Steps to the Epiphany (2007), one of the steps is Customer Creation. Piracy is so rampant in Indonesia (Mariz 2012), many Indonesians prefer to copy course material illegally. In order for CCIE93 program to success, the author must educate the potential students first about the importance of purchasing legal course material. In the beginning it looks a difficult task, but after some time all the members agreed to pay the program fee that will include the course material. There were potential students who are rejected to join the program since they insisted to follow the mentoring only while using illegal course material.

CCIE93 is also trying to change the mindset of Indonesian CCIEs; usually after someone passes CCIE lab he will be busy chasing a better career opportunity or other personal goal. Personal approach was used to communicate to the CCIEs to persuade them to be involved in the program as part of "giving back" or social responsibility to the community.

This is one key factor to make CCIE93 program successful. Sometimes creating good product is not enough, even with the good price, place and promotion. Sometimes the customer needs to be created by changing and shifting the mindset.


Mirek Burnejko, 2012. The Best IT Certifications 2012 [online] (Updated January 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Crisp360 Editor, 2012. 7 Expert Certifications That Command The Highest Salaries in IT [online] (Updated 27 January 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Louis Rhéaume, 2012. Cisco CEO John Chambers: Firms Must Reinvent Themselves Each 5 To 6 Years [online] (Updated 23 April 2012) available at:  [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Surya Panditi, 2012. Cisco Gains Core Routing Market Share for 7th Consecutive Quarter [online] (Updated 18 May 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Cisco Systems, 2012. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert [online] (Updated June 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Bruno Van de Werve, 2012. TECCCIE-8000 CCIE Routing & Switching, Cisco Live

Paul Baines et all, 2011. Marketing, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press

W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne, 2011. Blue Ocean Strategy, HBR's 10 Must Reads on Strategy, 1st ed., Harvard Business Review Press

Hitesh Bhasin, 2011. Marketing Mix – The 4 p’s of marketing [online] (Updated 6 October 2011) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Chris Guillebeau, 2012. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, 1st ed., Crown Business

Steven Gary Blank, 2007. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win, 3rd ed., Quad/Graphics

Eduardo Mariz, 2012. What US Stop Online Piracy Act Means for Indonesia [online] (Updated 2 February 2012) available at: Accessed 25 August 2012]

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