Nine months after announcing plans to hand training over to a group of its partners – both education specialists and distributions – IBM is expanding its network of training partners, introducing Ingram Micro as its fifth global training partner.
Ingram joins fellow distributors Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions and Avnet Technology Solutions, as well as traditional training specialists Global Knowledge and LearnQuest.
“[The partnership with Ingram] represents an opportunity to accelerate based on their market penetration, their expansive awareness, and their distribution of IBM products,” Bob McDonald, vice president of IBM Training, said. “They’re very active in driving our Big Data solutions and other parts that are high growth for us.”
Ingram joins the program as McDonald looks to start pushing more training content based on the company’s Systems and Technology Group. That group will be a key area where IBM looks to Ingram for support, he said.
And like its other training partners, Ingram will be encouraged to “embrace and extend” Big Blue’s training content. One of the key tenets of the program announced last July was the ability of take IBM’s own training materials and develop their own training materials on top of it, creating unique educational offerings for specific industries or segments.
“We really like this notion of derivative works,” McDonald said. “We encourage them to think about the marketplace and deliver great content – not just use the IBM content themselves, but to listen to what customers are telling them.”
McDonald said he also hopes to see its training partners get more forward thinking, being ready to launch training efforts at the same time as, or even ahead of, new technology innovations. For example, McDonald suggested that with IBM’s recent Power 8 launch, training partners could have been leading the charge.
“I’d like to see them develop skills to be ready for the marketplace instead of waiting for new products to launch,” he said. “We should be looking at where education can jump on broader business opportunities, instead of where it has to catch up.”
While the training programs are still rolling out, McDonald said IBM is resisting the urge to tinker too much with the structure of the program, preferring to work with its partners to identify skills and focuses, and fine-tune things where needed.
“We’re playing to the strengths of our partners, and we’ll adjust based on their capabilities and footprints around the world,” he said.
McDonald said the effort to hand training over to its partners is beginning to gain traction.
“The first six months were a learning curve for everyone, but especially in North America, we’re starting to gain traction,” McDonald said. “We need to get more acceleration in Australia and some places in Europe as well.”
In launching the program, IBM had a goal of increasing at least threefold the number of IBM-related training courses taken by next year.
He said Big Blue is on track to get training partners running the show around the world over the course of the next 12 to 14 months.