How WTG's Learning Campus Will Show VARs, MSPs The Connectivity Opportunities They Are Missing

Advancing Partners

If ScanSource's announcement of its intent to acquire master agent Intelisys is any indication, VARs and managed service providers have to start looking to networking, cloud and telecom services as a way to evolve and build up their recurring revenue streams as business customers move away from large, one-time technology spends. But VARs and MSps grappling with shrinking product margins need help understanding these new offerings.

That's where education comes in. Malibu, Calif.-based World Telecom Group (WTG) this month unveiled Learning Campus, an expansion of its online training program for its channel partners.

Learning Campus is an online resource that includes blogs, videos and vendor trainings on a range of technologies and topics. While the program is open to all WTG partners, it's especially being geared toward VAR and MSP partners who might need a little more help getting up to speed with the telecom business.

WTG CEO Vince Bradley and Cory Dzbinski, WTG's training development manager who is heading up Learning Campus, sat down with CRN to talk about the new training program. Here's what partners should know about Learning Campus.

Talk about how Learning Campus got started.

Dzbinski: I started [with WTG] in May to head up Learning Campus. We went to our agent and vendor channel and asked, 'What do you guys want to see? What's good for you, as a vendor? And what kinds of training should we have?'

The feedback we got from our channel was that they wanted the basics. So, Learning Campus covers everything from the very basics – [such as] what is cloud, or what is connectivity, as two topics. But also, once partners understand that connectivity is circuits, it's about what's the best way to sell it and position it for their customer.

How can a partner get started with Learning Campus, and what can they expect in terms of content?

Dzbinski: Learning Campus is free, and it starts with a secure login that [WTG partners] can log into. Once in, there's a selection of blogs, learning modules and trainings that partners can take much like a CompTIA or other structured training. There are also videos, and at the end of each, [there is] a quiz of key points to bring to partners' attention. Right now, we have about 25 different learning modules.

Some of the trainings are very broad, and some of it is vendor-specific. We worked with our vendors for that [content]. A lot of our vendor partners already have modules and training we can use and fit to our Learning Campus, or include direct links to the vendor portals, or their own learning centers.

How can Learning Campus help VAR and MSP partners get up to speed with the telecom/connectivity business?

Bradley: The long-term vision for Learning Campus is really to help VARs and MSPs learn how to sell connectivity, and that's our main focus for the program at the moment. A lot of these partners don’t understand when you ask if they sell connectivity. Some are asking, 'What do you mean, exactly?'

Learning Campus is great because it really fills a missing gap for us. [When talking to new VAR and MSP partners about connectivity] some would say that a project came up, and they can't get to [connectivity] right now. But with Learning Campus, when they are ready, they can head over to the modules and join us as time permits.

Dzbinski: It's really about knowing the right questions to ask the customer, and that’s one of the key things we intend to help VARs understand with Learning Campus.

What can telecom agent partners take away from Learning Campus?

Bradley: [Learning Campus] is really personalized training, so [the training resource] can really go both ways to help [both kinds] of partners. If an agent [partner] is saying, 'I need to get into managed services,' Learning Campus can educate them to look beyond the traditional circuits and look at managed services options, for example.

What do you think will be the hottest topic on Learning Campus that partners should be looking at right now?

Bradley: SD-WAN is already a module, but we are going to be adding more to it … because we want to get people up to speed with what it involves and how to sell it.

It's important to educate partners on the intelligence network, as opposed to MPLS, which is dying. SDN is about moving latency-sensitive traffic to the core of the network … and moving the other, less critical traffic so the traffic sensitive to delays can flow. I'm really bullish on SD-WAN. I predict it will be the hottest new product in 2017.

I think it will also help enable more MSPs to get into connectivity because they have to sell SD-WAN boxes. SD-WAN is enabling MSPs to take that technology to the next level, and they are excited about it. Everyone is jumping on the [SD-WAN] bandwagon.

What does the future road map look like for Learning Campus?

Dzbinski: We are trying to engage all of our partners. I reach out to agents every week to get their opinion and feedback on [Learning Campus], and I let them know it's there. … Certifications are part of our long-term vision, too. We are still working on development [of Learning Campus], and it's taking time, but we have high hopes for it.