The market is full of off-the-shelf certification training courses.
I've covered some of the best ones in this space, and they do indeed
offer tremendous value and unprecedented convenience. For learning a specific piece of technology, Internet-or CD-ROM-based courseware is
often an excellent choice. But a company may want its employees not
just to learn a specific piece of technology, but how that technology
fits with its own corporate mission and how it interacts with other
technologies currently in place within the enterprise. This is where
off-the-shelf training courses leave off, and customized training comes
into play. John Dalton, analyst with Forrester Research, said, "There will always
be a need for that kind of generic third-party content, because
accounting is accounting is accounting. Why reinvent the wheel?" But
Dalton points out, "When you get into soft skills, you've got to have
those core company skills at the front." Dalton says that companies are starting to become more skeptical of
third party, off-the-shelf training. Although it definitely has its
place, companies don't want third-party content for all
training "because they want more control over it. They want it
customized to their look and feel. They want to be able to extend that
beyond just one point of presence."
Alpha Net Solutions (www.alphanetsolutions.com), a full-service IT
company, takes this type of custom approach to its training courses.
While they do offer a standard fare of vendor-authorized generic
training at its public facilities, the company also offers private
classes geared towards the specific needs of its corporate
customers. "A typical request," said Ernie Baker, Director of Education
Services, "is someone would come in and say they need a custom
Microsoft SMS class. We would take the official curriculum, and hone it
down to just what they wanted to do." Baker says Alpha Net has a constant demand for custom classes. Students
would still earn the same certification, but the courses would be
tailored to reflect how a certain technology is used in that one
Darren Spohn, CEO of Spohn Training, Inc. (www.spohntraining.com),
agrees that the basics can often be covered in a "canned" e-learning
environment. "But the more complex the training, and the more
applicable to their jobs from a technology implementation standpoint,
the less you can do e-learning," he said. The advantage of a custom
course, said Spohn, is that you would learn "not just Microsoft
network, but how it applies to Novell, IP and the other technologies
that touch Novell." In reality, we live in a heterogeneous world, and
you're not likely to encounter a "pure" single-vendor shop. Learning
Cisco by itself, or Nortel by itself, has only limited utility.
Learning a specific vendor's technology, and how that technology
interacts with other vendors' technologies and how it functions in your
own specific corporate environment, however, is incredibly valuable.
This sort of learning can only be done with a custom, live course.