IBM Training: The New Plan Advances
October 14, 2013 Dan Burger
IBM‘s goal is to triple the number of people that are touched by its training and education programs between now and the end of 2015. That sounds pretty ambitious, but part of IBM’s plan is already in place. Big Blue is transitioning its T&E program to four business partners with the goals of increasing penetration into regions it has never been and adding convenience in major markets.
The Global Skills Initiative, as this education and training move from IBM to the business partners is called, got under way in July when it was rolled out in 10 countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In August it expanded to include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Switzerland. And in September the list grew to include: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
There are additional regional skills provider partners in South Africa, China, and several other countries, where contracts with IBM have not expired.
The four business partners, referred to as the global skills providers (GSPs), are the giant IBM resellers, Arrow Electronics and Avnet, plus two companies that specialize in IT technical training, Global Knowledge and LearnQuest.
Amy Purdy, director of technical training services, which is within the IBM Systems and Technology Group (STG), told me in a recent interview that the capabilities of the four GSPs reach far beyond what IBM was doing before the Global Skills Initiative. “We will reach more students in places where IBM would not be able reach,” she said.
IBM does business in approximately 180 countries. Prior to the skills initiative there was training in about 60 countries.
Global Knowledge and LearnQuest each have worldwide IT training in place. Arrow and Avnet are global resellers with experience in training and education services. They also have direct access to many IBM customers and many downstream sales channel partners. Those business partners require IBM training and they have customers who benefit from training on IBM products as well. IBM customers, who do not have a business partner relationship with Avnet or Arrow have the choice of working with Global Knowledge or LearnQuest.
With the four skills providers handling IBM content, not only would IBM training get to places it had never been offered before, but the schedule of classes in major markets would increase and the locations where training is offered would also expand, Purdy predicted. “There will be more choices for companies with regard to who teaches the class, where it is taught, and how much it costs,” Purdy said.
“Tripling the number of students in the U.S. or the other major markets is not realistic, but it will increase because more classes will be offered in more convenient locations for more companies. But there are growth markets like Africa and Latin America, which are wide open–not completely untapped, but the opportunities are great.”
IBM will continue to create the T&E content, but it no longer manages the business aspects–the actual training, scheduling, pricing, enrollment, and invoicing–of this program. It will provide oversight of the program and a staff is in place to facilitate the dissemination of content to the business partners. IBM subject matter experts, who were often training instructors, will have that role greatly diminished.
All GTPs have access to same material from IBM and are contracted to deliver the entire IBM portfolio. They can, however, create their own derivative work by combining training from one IBM course with training from another IBM course. Training that combines systems, networking and storage is an example. Companies can contact the providers with requests for customized education. This could be set up to be solutions training rather than product-specific or technology-specific training.
You can still find the training courses that are being offered by accessing the IBM Systems Training website.
The website landing page begins with broad categories: Power Systems, PureSystems, System Storage and Storage Networking, System x and BladeCenter, System z, and Cloud Computing.
Using the Power Systems category as an example, there are groupings for: end users, system operators, system administrators, application developers, virtualization, solutions, WebSphere/Java, and networking.
Choose one of those categories and you arrive on a page with a diagram that sorts the class listings based on, for instance, which version of IBM i you are running. When you find a class on a subject of interest, the information there includes a course description, the intended audience and its skill level, prerequisites, skills taught, and a course outline.
You will also see whether or not the class is scheduled and which of the GSPs are offering it. If the class is not scheduled, there are links to the four skills providers that allow requests that course be added to the schedule, a request to talk with a training advisor, or a request to obtain more details. This route will lead you off the IBM site and to the website of your choice of one of the four skills providers.
When you find a class that is scheduled, it identifies the number of days required for completion, which partner(s) is offering the class, the date, the location, and the language that is used during instruction.
The navigation is pretty easy, but in the time it takes to load some of the Web pages you could fetch a cup of coffee and read a couple of IT Jungle stories.