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Today, I want to share some thoughts around coverage. In general, there are lots of discussions around the question “Is your company having a good education coverage?” Most responses are negative. People do not have a clear definition on what education coverage is exactly. In the end, everybody has his own definition. Let us reflect a little bit about this topic so that next time you’re involved into a discussion around coverage, you have better arguments.
What is Education Coverage? How do we measure coverage? First, we need to define our audience. Let’s make this easy and talk only about Technical IT Education.
If you’re talking to clients of IT companies they’re asking primarily two questions: “are you delivering skills in a specific country?” If a company has more than one product, the second question is:” are you delivering skills for a certain product in a specific country?” From the view of an IT company it is a fact: clients will only use a product in a certain country if they are properly trained. This means that the two prior questions seem to be key to the coverage discussion.
Keep in mind that there are more questions possible related to Technical IT Education. For example questions about the delivery methodology or language. But these are not important if we measure coverage. As long as students accept training, we do not care. Once we have in parallel a measurement for successful training in a product it is not important how this happened in this context. We could discuss if other methodologies or languages could increase skills. But this is a business development consideration and doesn’t influence our basic definition. Here we want to focus on the definition of how to measure coverage.
As summary we can state that there are two things for which we need to find a measurement: the countries and the skills you need for a certain product.
Moving now from Education Coverage to the details. Country coverage as a simple measurement is to count countries where at least one student gets trained in a year. It may sound easy to say “we’re covering a country with education” when just one student was trained, but it is the most basic measurement. There are lots of cases where you want to measure more: number of students compared to population, number of students compared to revenue etc.. You could come to an endless list of criteria. But take it back to the basics: One day you need to train your first student. Prior to having at least once student trained in a country you do not have to think about more complex criteria. So for our purpose we define “A country is treated as covered with education once one student per year received education”
IBM has developed a market-leading digital badges program to transform the way the IT industry develops and takes inventory of skills. The program was motivated by exactly what we’re speaking about. Find a measurable approach for skills when we talk about education coverage.
Specifically, the key organizational objectives behind the badges program were:
• Track skills at nano-level. Create a heat map of critical skills for achievements earned across the globe
• Solidify the client base. Build advocacy and strengthening client relationship and commitment to IBM
• Build a developer base. Increase the number of developers using IBM’s offerings
• Proliferate skills. Build a vibrant and large pool of skilled talent to support our products and solutions
• Increase license sales. Drive potential customers to act by downloading trial versions of our offerings upon badge completion
• Reduce customer service. Motivate customers to develop skills in-house to reduce support calls and critical situations
Compared to any other measurement the success of the badges for IBM is unique. Today universities are starting to accept badges from the industry. I think there is no question that badges are the right way to measure product skills.
If we speak about education coverage we can use two basic measurements: The amount of countries in which we delivered skills on one hand. On the other hand the amount of badges in a country. With this we break the country number down into a more granualar level.