New Canadian startup offers Training-as-a-Service, Cisco CAIP enablement

It seems these days that everyone, including malware creators, are trying to come up with their own as-a-Service product (ever tried distinguishing between VDI, desktop and workspace-as-a-service?), hence it’s rare that a genuine fresh avenue is explored.

Fivel Systems Corporation, a Canadian startup of sorts, is trying to do just that with Training-as-a-Service.

At its core, it’s designed to be an enablement product for those in the channel struggling to adapt to Cisco’s new CAIP or Collaboration Adoption Incentive Program, which the company introduced last month.

The goal of the program is to get partners of the networking giant to deliver business outcomes along with end user adoption, as opposed to simply making the sale or provisioning.

In other words, Cisco simply wants to make sure the customer knows how to use the new technology, according to John Breakey, Fivel founder and chief executive, and a former Cisco Canada partner.

“As a VAR, my contacts used to be the network manager, CIO, technical people of that company and they are responsible for the end-users,” Breakey explained. Often companies found that adoption rate for new technologies was as low as 5 per cent, meaning no one bothered with the new collaboration software or soft phones that were supposed to be more efficient.

“Now the VAR has to take responsibility for the end-user and deployment,” he said.

The problem is that while the likes of Cisco’s CAIP program and Microsoft are obligating VARs to train client employees, these partners have very few dedicated trainers on staff.

“They can pull in technicians, but they don’t have the ability to scale and don’t have the delivery mechanism,” Breakey said. Furthermore, it involves more than a simple seminar; CAIP requires complex reporting of employee training progress, but Cisco does not provide a solution to do so.

This is where Fivel comes in.

Through a web-based portal, the company delivers short training videos on generic functions, say, how to print in Office 365, to more specific functions in bespoke solutions, depending on a client’s need.

The system tracks who has received which training session and is then able to quiz them at various intervals and automate retention reporting. It also employs gamification and various psychology tricks to keep users engaged and from losing interest.

Furthermore, the system produces reports that partners can use to send to Cisco.

While the solution is geared towards enabling partners in CAIP, it can be applied to any training scenario, according to Breakey.

Fivel consults with both clients and VARs to determine the materials as well as the extent of research that is required.

The fee charged ranges anywhere from $1500 to $4000, depending on the research required, and the payment can come from either the client or the VAR.

While Breakey says the service should be able to replace most training scenarios, there will be moments where tactile hands-on experience may be required.

“I’m a firm believer that it’s not an either-or scenario,” he said. “We’re not suggesting ours vs everything else and we don’t advocate getting rid of trainers. It’s just a matter of automating workloads and doing something that has more reach.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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