New program targets partner productivity losses

The IT skills shortage is a topic that comes up time and time again in the news, and the situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Clearly this is a concern to vendors, because it means there are fewer skilled professionals that can sell, implement and support their products. But it’s also a concern to distributors – which is likely why Tech Data has teamed up with Cisco to help its partners deal with this issue.

The big concern right now is whether there are going to be enough people around in the coming years to support the IT industry here in North America. Both CATAlliance and CIPS (the Canadian Information Processing Society) are anticipating a shortfall of IT workers in the next five years or so. And this will include replacement jobs as well as brand-new jobs.

So what’s the problem here? It’s a complex issue, but part of the reason is that IT firms are still suffering from the perception that jobs in the tech sector are highly volatile after the dot-com bust. There’s also a belief that all the jobs are moving to China and India. Perhaps these perceptions can help explain declining enrolment rates at colleges and universities.

The problem that IT firms face right now, however, is a resulting decline in productivity and growth.

So Cisco and Tech Data have come up with a program called Capacity Builder to help Cisco partners make the most of the talent they already have. Basically, it’s designed to develop and retain talent, and help increase their current capacity.

The program contains several components. Performance Builder is a private-label configuration service where Cisco devices are pre-configured for partners (this can be used for all of a partner’s configurations or for overflow).

Productivity Builder uses Tech Data’s MyOrderTracker to ensure technicians and equipment will be at a customer site at the same time (to avoid wasting time).

And Talent Builder, which is perhaps the most interesting component of the program, helps monitor and map partner employee certifications so those certifications don’t expire.

This is good news for Cisco partners (especially since they don’t have to be previous Tech Data customers to take advantage of the program) – though it isn’t designed to bring in new recruits.

While Cisco and Tech Data’s partnership won’t change misperceptions in today’s youth or convince more students to get into IT, at least it’s dealing with the here and now – by directly targeting the effects this skills shortage is having on productivity.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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