Transforming channel training
By Jaco Malan, Service Delivery Director at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa
The number of organisations rapidly embracing digital transformation initiatives puts the IT channel under pressure to implement modern technologies as effectively as possible for customers to get the optimal value.
A vital part of this is the continuous upskilling and reskilling of the workforce through innovative training platforms.
Of course, the channel and training are familiar bedfellows. Vendor partners have always had to know the solutions they are selling inside and out while working closely with distributors to keep in touch with the latest trends.
Certification reflects the extent to which a partner (or individual within that organisation) meets the required level of competency to sell and implement a particular solution. And because these certifications are standardised worldwide, it gives clients the peace of mind that they are working with partners with the skillsets needed to do what they say they can.
The difference now is the speed at which change is happening. Thanks mainly to the normalisation of a distributed workforce.
Fortunately, there has been a concerted effort to move channel training into a digitally-led environment long before this. After all, going online would negate the need to physically go to training centres that could result in significant travel expenses, especially for those partners based in outlying areas. And then there is the small matter of needing to re-sit for exams if these are not passed the first time.
The past 16 months have provided channel partners with the catalyst needed to embrace digital training platforms wholly. Even though some businesses have started to adopt hybrid work environments where employees rotate in and out of traditional offices - if the current state of the market is anything to go by, a significant portion of people will still need to work from anywhere for some time to come.
Thanks to lockdown conditions, organisations needed to adopt solutions that enable this and equip their employees with the technologies, tools, and training to keep operational from home.
For example, this is where channel-led training initiatives like that which we offer through the Westcon-Comstor Academy come into their own. These programmes provide an online environment for multi-vendor training programmes that partners and customers can access.
The academy is focused on delivering a comprehensive course portfolio and has a global reach while still providing hands-on experience and expertise. It is a prime example of how a distributor or channel partner can quickly move to virtual education and certification to better reflect the dynamic needs of the channel from a partner level through to meeting the customer's requirements.
Another advantage of digitising available training courses is how these can scale to meet the specific needs of a partner and customer. So, whether it is an SME looking to certify one or two people or a large multinational that must keep the expertise of thousands of specialists up to date, online training can cater for virtually any requirement.
It all comes down to digital academies delivering completely customisable solutions for distributors to offer bespoke solutions to partners and customers alike. Whether it is pre-sales or enablement training or product, vendor, or engineering expertise development, a digital academy can more efficiently deliver than what traditional bricks and mortar institutions can do.
Additionally, these digital environments provide virtual laboratories that can simulate real-life scenarios in a safe environment. This means any use case or problem area can be thoroughly tested, giving the employee the level of confidence needed before rolling anything out into a client environment.
A new world
Like so many other industries, training is receiving the overhaul needed to be more agile for connected landscapes. Now, it is up to the vendor partners and customers to embrace online learning from their side to become even more responsive to the demands of this uncertain business environment.