With all the attention focused on the growing role of vendor-neutral certifications in this week's cover story, one important finding may have slipped under the radar: Web-based certification training has come of age.
This is true for initial training as well as maintenance or renewal training and is independent of solution providers' preferences for classroom training or self-paced programs.
When it comes to initial training for certifications, 46 percent of respondents to the 2004 CRN Certification Study want an online component as part of the curriculum. When it comes to maintenance or renewal certification training, the figure rises to 57 percent, as the chart shows.
The percentage of solution providers desiring online training varies depending on the certification in question and tends to be higher for more advanced certifications.
The rationale can be traced to factors including changing channel economics. Web-based training saves solution providers time and money, and data from the study show 70 percent of respondents cite out-of-pocket costs as a key factor affecting their training decision.
Vendors could use the Web to add features to their certification programs that might boost ROI for solution providers. A virtual laboratory, for example, can be a huge benefit to individuals training to be Cisco Certified Internetwork Experts, which includes a rigorous, hands-on test.
Vendors face a significant challenge updating their certification programs as the model evolves to favor more vendor-neutral designations. But it could be worthwhile: The research shows solution providers are willing to pay more out-of-pocket for certifications with high and rising ROIs.