The ISSC Radar blog series covers the current and future trends observed by Collaboration Services members.
This blog introduces the IBM Collaboration Solutions Certification Program Manager - Sara Nicklin.
Sara Nicklin has been with IBM for seven years. Her current role is WW Professional Certification Program Manager for IBM Collaboration Solutions Education
which she has held for the past 3.5 years. Prior to her current role, she held a position as the instructor program administrator also with IBM Collaboration Solutions Education.
As worldwide Professional Certification Program Manager for IBM Collaboration Solutions Education, Sara deals with people inside and outside of IBM. She works a lot with IBM's training partners, other instructors, certified professionals, and conference organizers in order to promote certification at conferences via collateral or to offer on-site testing and/or vouchers for discounted tests to conference attendees.
Within IBM, she works closely at a worldwide level reaching out to geographies to learn if the instructors have the necessary skills to meet any new courseware requirements that may be coming out. This ensures instructors are certified themselves, thereby making sure they have the qualifications and the skills needed to deliver the courses in their respective geographies.
In her spare time, Sara enjoys hiking, bike riding and yoga. She is a volunteer tutor with the Adult Literacy Council of York-Simcoe, which she finds very rewarding.
Sara is also the author of a White Paper entitled, "The Value of IT Certification"
of which she is quite proud (and for good reason).
Not only was her White Paper adopted within IBM, but Sara has seen the document adopted by other vendors who have IT certification.
Validation indeed. The paper explains the value of certification with quantifiable data which is why it is so valuable. Sara is also working in
partnership with Prometric
who designed a web-based resource to give people information on the value of IT certification
. We asked Sara to
share some of her insight in trends concerning certification.
Tell us about certification
IBM Collaboration Solutions Education has the longest running certification programs in the IT industry which predates many of our competitors. Our essential philosophy is this: Enable an individual to take a test and thereby provide proof of their competence within a particular job role with a particular technology or group of technologies. Our certification is geared towards administrators, developers, specialists, designers, solution developers and IT security professionals. We have a number of certifications which exist that we create based on this criteria: What does a technical professional need to understand about a software product in order to perform a specific job role?
What trends to you see in certification?
In certification, things tend to ebb and flow. As software product release cycles become quicker certification cycles are smaller and smaller as they need to follow suite, obviously. We have programs for Business Partners, for the Academic Initiative, and for conference attendees but I won't get into those because they are demographically specific. For this blog, I'll focus on IBM Collaboration Solutions Certification.
One trend I've noticed in certification is among IBM Lotus® Notes® and Domino® system administrators. Certification was up earlier this year. In the mature market there is a core group of people who are going after their certifications but overall we're seeing a decline. Where we are seeing an increase for IBM Lotus ® Notes® Domino® certifications is in the growth markets. IBM WebSphere Portal and IBM Connections certifications, however, are on the rise in both markets.
At events I attended earlier this year, I met a lot of interesting people who were asking about certification on IBM Lotus ® Notes ® 8.5, but they didn't have version 6 certification but they were certified on previous versions. (Typically most people who come to certify on 8.5 are already certified on 8.) So there appears to be a new group of people who are returning to IBM Lotus ® Notes® and Domino® certification after an extended hiatus.
So our legacy products (like IBM Lotus ® Notes® ) make up the bulk of our certifications achieved but people may not be aware that we also have advanced collaboration certifications that are increasing as well:
- IBM SmartCloud migration certification
- IBM Quickr® certification
- Connections certification
- Sametime certification
- IBM Forms certification
We also have a lot of IBM WebSphere Portal certifications. We are seeing growth in all these areas:
- IBM WebSphere® Portal
- IBM Web Experience factory
- IBM WebSphere® Content Manager
What do you enjoy most about the IBM Collaboration Solutions certification program?
What I enjoy most about our certification programs is the cross brand discounts and promotions people can take advantage of within the IBM brand. The "Take it again"
program, for instance, which IBM Collaboration Solutions spear-headed for software group in 2009 is proving very popular. It is a worldwide program which is open to anyone.
The way it works is this: A candidate registers for a special voucher (which costs a little more than the traditional certification exam) but if they don't pass the first time, they can take the test again at no additional cost. I'm finding people are taking advantage of this program alot because it is helpful for those who might be nervous about taking tests or are unsure about their ability to pass. It takes the pressure off knowing they can go back and retake the test free of charge.
Also, in the last two years we have been creating our own assessment tests
for the exams.
The cost is $30.00 US. It contains the exact same number of questions, is the same length and covers the same competencies as the corresponding certification exam. People can access assessments from the above website and take them anytime they wish. Think of it as diagnostic tools which gives you a snapshot of where you stand before taking the actual test. It is used by people who want to take the exams and believe they are prepared but want to double check before they spend that kind of money. We also offer discounts and promotions too, when appropriate.
There is also the IBM Collaboration Solutions train & certify program.
If an individual takes an official authorized course, they can then go ahead and take the corresponding exam for 50% off.
So what new certification programs do you have to share?
There are a couple of items on the agenda for 2012 that are very exciting.
First, we have the system administration certification for IBM Connections 4, scheduled to be released at the end of October. This certification, like previous Connections credentials, requires candidates to pass one test in order to achieve the corresponding certification. The test will be called "LOT-402: Administering IBM Connections 4.0".
Second, we are creating a new group of associate level certification tests to take the place of our outdated Technical Sales Mastery exams. These tests are not as technical as our other certifications and test at a more fundamental level. They would be appropriate for power users, resellers and support engineers. More information on these associate level certifications can be found on the announcement
on the certification web page.