So, Microsoft has decided to take an axe to the training and certification requirements for a number of products including Dynamics NAV and GP, preferring instead to replace them with a range of “How to” videos where people will learn by watching YouTube-style clips rather than being formally assessed.
My own experience of this style of training came from within the Microsoft walls where a large percentage of courses were delivered via online video; so I understand the scalability and availability benefits that come with delivering training in this manner.
When you consider the cost savings and flexibility gains, not to mention the potential for people to share, comment on and rate content, it’s a very persuasive argument.
That said, I also know that when it comes to consuming training in this way, your level of dedication is not the same as when you know you’ve got to sit an exam afterwards – just ask anyone who’s taken their MCP licensing exams.
Anyone who’s sat through hours of mandatory training videos, will know that your boredom threshold is very soon met. You end up fast-forwarding sections to get to the multiple choice questions designed to test your knowledge.
Well, you do this until your organisation gets wise to that behavior and the ‘skip’ option is taken away and then you have to watch every last second of content until you want to cry. Let’s hope when making the videos, the content creators are bearing this in mind or there could be a lot of tearful partners out there!
End of life?
But this isn’t really an argument about what the most effective way to deliver training is; it’s far more significant than that. There are rumblings that partners are worried this is the start of a slow slide away from supporting Dynamics NAV and GP; no formal training = no longer strategically important.
This is felt all the more keenly as exams and certifications will remain in place for Dynamics CRM and AX, so you would be forgiven for concluding that they are seen as more likely to remain on the roadmap. Partners are already forming an idea of what the future will look like and the worry is it’s going to be a NAV and GP-free zone.
What about the customers?
Whatever the underlying reason, this sea-change for partners will have an impact on customers too. Customers choose partners who have Gold and Silver competence because they understand it reflects expertise. With the competency no longer requiring product certification, how will customers know if they’ve picked the right partner? And what does this mean for the individuals who have been through the process of gaining their certifications – where does that leave them?
It’s an interesting change that Microsoft has made and one that will send waves across the partner and customer community for a long time to come, not to mention other software vendors who will be watching closely how this plays out.
Microsoft’s partner programme is not always easy to operate within but it is held in extremely high regard – why else would 50,000+ partner representatives head out to Washington for WPC2014? And why else would hundreds of thousands of partners and their millions of employees work so hard to achieve the competencies? Because their livelihoods depend on it.
So when it comes to the future of how Microsoft trains its Dynamics channel, it’s going to be worth staying tuned.
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