Why All IT Certifications Aren't Created Equal

By Michael Vizard  |  Print this article Print
IT certification

NEWS ANALYSIS: The challenge is sorting out certifications that are part of the cost of doing business from those that provide specialization that might yield significant ROI.

Certifications around advanced technologies are particularly important, given the complexity of the technologies involved, said Randy Russell, director of certifications for Red Hat. "We're looking to partners that want to step up," Russell said. "We're trying to make a distinction between capacity and capability."

Given the demand for IT professionals with advanced IT skills, it might not come as surprise that technologies such as security and big data are a key focus on a list of the top 10 certifications compiled by Foote Partners LLC.

Of course, capitalizing on all that investment in certification is a major challenge for vendors and their partners. Customers don't tend to put much stock in certifications—no matter how advanced the technology they want to implement. In fact, the personal brands of a small circle of experts in any given category often supersede the brand of the solution provider or, for that matter, the vendor. As such, turning certifications into something resembling a marketing asset continues to be a major challenge for the IT industry.

"If you're a big solution provider, you already have a brand and reputation that goes beyond certifications," said Pete Busam, chief balancer for Equilibrium Consulting, which specializes in channel marketing. "It's only the little guys that no one has heard of looking to carve out some area of differentiation that are using certifications to differentiate themselves at least in terms of perception."

Nevertheless, a considerable complex associated with the administering of certifications continues to exist. The challenge is sorting out the certifications that are merely part of the cost of doing business, versus ones that might result in solution providers achieving a level of specialization in a category that might yield a significant return on that investment.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.