Tech Data adds to training business through Ottawa’s ExitCertified

Hees Ham, vice president of Technology Solutions education services for North America

Hees Ham, vice president of Technology Solutions education services for North America

Tech Data is building out its education offerings with the help of the Ottawa-based education services business it picked up in its acquisition of Avnet Technology Solutions, now known simply as Technology Solutions.

In January of 2016, Avnet acquired Ottawa’s ExitCertified, a provider of in-class and online technology training, to build out its own education services for the Technology Solutions business. Now, Tech Data is taking those same capabilities to its channel, particularly its iMVP (Individual Multimedia Video Presence) video-based training. Hees Ham, vice president of Technology Solutions education services for North America, said that before Tech Data has done enablement, had a “small education team,” and have used some third-party partners, but has never had the infrastructure ExitCertified and Avnet have built up over the years.

“I’m really excited about this massive channel opportunity with Tech Data, to leverage iMVP to get them enabled, and to reach the end customers they’re working with and making them aware of these training solutions,” Ham said, adding that Tech Data has been “keen to see how they can used it to train their massive ecosystem.”

iMVP has been around for about four years, growing from the original MVP program, which was an audio-only offering and ExitCertified’s first foray into training in venues other than classroom. But it felt the audio-only approach was lacking in terms of the overall experience.

“The big thing that was apparent to us was that nobody was incorporating video, it was just audio,” Ham said. “Students could see the slides, but the level of engagement wasn’t there.”

So it added the infrastructure to add video to the mix, and iMVP was born. While these days, most if not all would-be students have access to a webcam, as it’s a ubiquitous feature on notebooks, and frequently on desktops as well, Ham said ExitCertified still sends a physical kit to every student including a headset and a webcam.

“Everybody may have those things, but we do it to control the variables, so that if the student has any challenges getting connected, we know our team can walk them through it,” he said.

iMVP sessions are broadcast from one of the groups classrooms, allowing them to combine virtual and physical students into one experience, which Ham said has been the goal of the group — to create the same experience however a student chooses to engage.

“A lot of students come into the classroom, see the remote students and interact with them, and then decide maybe they don’t need to come into the classroom,” Ham said. Actually, it might be a good decision. “The quality score [for iMVP students] runs a little bit higher than the average in-class experience rating,” Ham added.

So far, the group has put more than 10,000 students through video-based training, and Ham said the nature of opportunity is expanding. While it was always built with the intention to serve as a training platform for ExitCertified to offer training to solution providers and their customers, Ham said increasingly, he’s fielding questions on how other technology vendors, and even solution providers, can use the iMVP platform.