Training and Certification

Rubel Khan's Blog

WPC 2009 Live Blog: Microsoft Learning Unplugged #WPC-2009

Posted by Rubel Khan on July 16, 2009

15:05  Kicking off our Q&A session… no slides for this session, and not all questions were submitted in advance, so my apologies if i miss a few things here and there, will do my best to keep up!

Deborah Grauer, our track manager, introducing Lutz, Chris, and Jim Palmeri, who leads our Product Management group.

13:08 First up: (from B2L)

Dale (Director of Product Planning) mentioned at the 5pm session that 40% of sales volume comes from EMEA, but over the few years most of the CPLS promotion by Microsoft has been located in the US (Elevate America, bus across America) is there any plans to promote CPLSes in EMEA with similar events, I am aware of the Get on the Bus across Europe but what else are Microsoft doing to promote CPLS, Training and Certification in EMEA?

Chris answers, acknowledges “Get on the Bus” (thanks, Chris!) and says we’ll do it again in Europe this year (thanks, Chris!) and says that he’ll have his team look at additional opportunities, would love your suggestions. Oh, and Campaign Factory was invented in EMEA!

13:10 Q: Why is Digital MOC and Labs Online only launching in North America first? Why not EMEA, since largest share of volumes/revenue are in EMEA? A: Because we need to pilot, and easier to pilot in English first while working out infrastructure and other issues. Follow-up comment from audience: we’d like to have it in English in England. 🙂 

13:12 Q: Something about changes in EA program impacting SATV. (missed exact question, sorry!)  Lutz answers: SATV is biggest investment Microsoft makes in the SA program—even though there is a scenario in which training vouchers can be exchanged for desktop deployment, uptake of that is so low, and so many training vouchers go unused, that this isn’t really a problem.

13:13 Q: No one outside of CPLS knows what CPLS means. CPLS never shows up on any slide other than a Learning Solutions track slide. Steve Ballmer, other execs, never talk about training. Sales people aren’t goaled on driving training and certification. (I think there was an implied request to fix these things. :-))

A: Chris says: very big sprawling company, and hard to get the same mindshare everywhere—but: the SATV program is evidence of how important Microsoft thinks training is, and how important CPLS are. We all (everyone in room) own the CPLS brand, and while we will continue to push for more mindshare internally, we will give you tools to promote yourselves and ask you to do so—celebrate the CPLS brand, the more visibility the better.

Lutz adds: many places where execs do highlight CPLS but acknowledges that there are many places where that doesn’t happen.

15:21 Q: I hear repeated focus on migrations and upgrades… what’s the skills sales strategy for this? Oracle is great at this (Chris is from Oracle originally, says, “nah, not that great” :-))  Lutz answers, you don’t want us to behave like Oracle, or our partnership would be very different… but with Masters program, as far as skills development go, we can go head-to-head with anyone for depth of skills.

Follow-up Q: Can CPLS sell SQL Masters program? A: yes, absolutely. Short primer on Masters program follows…

15:25  Q: I understand that NextGen MOC is gone. What about Lab Launcher?  Chris explains what Lab Launcher is, Raza Syed (who leads our Learning Services Group) takes the baton and explains that we are moving to putting labs on-line, but Lab Launcher will continue to be used for local labs. Follow-up: will there be another release of Lab Launcher? No, just sustained engineering.

15:28  Q: Can you give us a payback for the very bad return we had on WS2008 MOC? (applause)  Jim answers no—Lutz adds that we are investing money instead into sustained engineering to improve the courseware.

15:30  Q: PAMs have been eliminated, effectively removing a benefit. (not sure what question part is) Chris answers: yes, we’ve reduced staff, and these decisions are made ultimately by our subsidiaries in order to meet their commitments and stay within their cost budgets. When PAMs are removed, we try to get creative and use “virtual” PAMs or have other competency PAMs help out. Chris promises sooner or later: the PAMs will come back.

15:32  Q: Engaging in citizenship campaigns costs us money. Should we really do it and why? Lutz says: ABSOLUTELY!  Examples of CPLSes bailing out customers of other CPLSes that failed, gave free training since students had already paid; other examples of “pay it forward” that are reaping or will reap benefits for those that offer them.

15:34  Q: Can you make “Course Locator” easier to find. Maybe put it on the front page of BING. (applause)  Chris answers: we did make Class Locator easier to syndicate, so that we could embed it in e-mail, other sites, other campaigns. But Bing: probably not. But we get two million hits a month on B2L and 1.5M hits on our official site. (Uh oh, I think Chris just implicitly promised that B2L will have Class Locator embedded (good idea, too). Joanne, are you listening? :-))

15:37  Q: Class Finder is still hard to use. A: Chris says we’ll use the MTM uploader in FY10, so you’ll only have to upload once, simultaneously into MTM and Class Locator. Raza says that Class Finder will be replaced this year.

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