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Today's environment is a very competitive place. In the business arena, the competition is fierce to survive, let alone remain profitable.
What can businesses do to thrive in today's competitive environment? One area rapidly growing in importance as a component of a businesses' competitive advantage is IT certification. Validation of technical skills, through some form of industry certification, is one of the hallmarks of quality that clients and employers are seeking.
As the future unfolds, there are some significant areas of focus that individual IT certification programs must address for certification to further its role as a measure of quality. This article offers guidelines on how to compare and evaluate certification programs from both a client's and an individual's point of view.
Open Platform and Industry Standards
Computer technology is proliferating at such an incredible pace that it can be almost mind-boggling to stay abreast of the changes and enhancements. One of the fastest-advancing areas is the Internet. With many different manufacturers driving the Internet frontier, it is evolving as a mixed-technology environment. In the future, the traditional homogenous IT solution will become less and less prevalent. To meet the needs of these mixed-technology environments, future certifications must adopt an open platform approach and focus on industry standards. This will provide candidates with the skills they need to integrate and, more importantly, optimize solutions consisting of technology from many different manufacturers.
This open platform, industry standard approach will provide the foundation for certifications heading into the 21st century. Candidates that choose these certifications as validation of their abilities are clearly demonstrating that they have mastered the skills needed to integrate solutions in the mixed-technology environment.
Various companies, including Intel, have led the way by incorporating open platform, industry standard technology into their products and services from the beginning. Early on, they realized that having a proprietary computer, much less an entire network, would not be beneficial in the long term. These IT players will become the drivers behind these new certifications. Having an IT certification that incorporates an open platform approach will become a key differentiator of the quality of a candidate's skills in the future.
The reseller channel will be one of the primary benefactors of this trend. Resellers incorporating these open platform certifications as a validation of their technical integration skills will gain a valuable competitive advantage that demonstrates their capacity to handle a broader scope of solutions. Resellers are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Certifications that validate their skills at integrating solutions in a mixed-technology environment will become an important marketing tool, helping them stand out in an already crowded marketplace.
However, the channel must help endorse this open platform approach to IT certification. They must communicate to their customers that this is the preferred way to measure the quality of their skills in a particular technology area, for example e-business. The message for their customers is straightforward: Certification provides reassurance that they'll get the best solution for their business, as opposed to the solution the reseller's technical team happens to know how to build.
"Certification has given us the competitive advantage," said Audra Hajj, vice president of Flashecom, Inc., of Brea, Calif. "Most vendors have similar products to sell. What sets us apart is the investment we make in training our engineers in current technology. Our team of engineers has the skills—validated by Intel certification—to configure, build, and optimize a solution around our customers' needs, rather than simply pulling something out of a box and making it fit their business."