Special Report – CompTIA’s Five Industry Trends to Watch in 2010

Web 2.0 and Beyond: New Options for Training the IT Workforce – The ever accelerating technology adoption curve places increasing importance on the need to continually update skills of the high-tech workforce. On-going training and education is not a luxury, but a necessity. But this need occurs at a time when the workforce is shrinking due to factors both economic (layoffs and budget constraints) and demographic (an aging baby-boomer workforce with fewer workers following in their footsteps).

Historically, tech workers seize any opportunity to add new skills and credentials to their CV. This desire to stay at the crest of the learning curve is even more pronounced during times of recession when tech workers at all levels discover no job is safe. And it’s easy for companies to sign off on training when business is good and profits are high. It’s a much tougher call when the focus is on every number on the bottom.

Today, the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the training environment is going a long way to easing concerns about the time and resources required to keep workers’ skills up to date. The social Web is rapidly becoming the primary venue for social interaction. It’s where we go to communicate, interact and learn. Whether through blogs or tweets, RSS or e-communities, wikis or podcasts, individuals (and, increasingly, companies) are using these tools to link to one another based on common interests. The use of these tools is becoming more prevalent in the learning realm, too.

A 2009 CompTIA survey of 1,500-plus IT professionals found that 36 percent utilized some type of Internet-based study application, while one in five participated in an online training session led by an instructor. Looking ahead, all signs point to an even greater leveraging of technology as students and instructors seek more flexibility, collaboration and interaction. Just as exciting is the two-way learning experience that’s made more possible than ever by social media or Web 2.0 tools.

Incorporating interactive simulations and games into a class or seminar gets students more engaged. Web 2.0 tools also allow content to be tailored and personalized, even down to the individual student level. Similarly, students can quickly and easily communicate with the instructor for any reason. This can help the instructor improve course material based on immediate feedback or make other changes more quickly in response to student needs. No longer is the classroom dominated by an “I teach and you listen” mentality. Content can be created and debated by all participants.

At the organization level, early adopters have found that blogs, social networking and customer forums offer the “biggest bang for the buck” among Web 2.0 tools in terms of measurable benefits. And coming soon to a desktop or handheld near you is Web 3.0 and 4.0, featuring rich media with full high definition video, sound and even emotive and touch features.

With a potential shift from basic infrastructure investments to solutions that are more focused on driving revenue and efficiency, technology providers that can leverage strong relationships and effectively communicate the business value of technology should continue to see opportunities. More and more customers want technology partners that truly understand their business needs and are able to provide scalable solutions. Providers that focus on these core values, while helping customers understand the potential business impact of IT investments, should see continued success despite the expected economic challenges in the coming year.

Todd Thibodeaux is the president and chief executive officer of CompTIA, the leading trade association for the world’s information technology industry. He is responsible for leading strategy, development and growth efforts for the association. Before joining CompTIA in July 2008, Todd spent more than 17 years with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), where he served in a wide range of roles culminating as its senior vice president of industry relations. During Todd’s tenure with CEA, the organization grew from having just a small handful of member companies to become a thriving, diverse and widely-respected trade group with over 2,200 member companies and 150 employees. CEA is perhaps best known for producing one of the world’s largest technology trade events, the International Consumer Electronics Show.

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