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IDC named SAP a leader in the education space in new report

Leading industry analyst firm IDC named SAP a leader in the IT education space in its new report, IDC MarketScape: Woldwide IT Education and Training 2012 Vendor Analysis.  SAP is named a Leader in the report, which goes on to state: “Unlike most vendors, SAP makes training available along with the beta-testing release of the software to both “test” the training and provide the ecosystem and early adopting clients with the best opportunity for successfully deploying the new software.” 

Key highlights from the report include:

  • “Of significant strength for SAP is its large and diverse set of educational services offerings aligned by project life cycle”, which “reflects an industry best practice for comprehensive educational service offerings.”
  • “An additional key strength for SAP is its use of community of practice (CoP) to develop content, gauge interest level, and receive feedback.”
  • “In addition to input from the CoPs, SAP uses certification scores, global support feedback, and instructor feedback from classroom experience as input into curriculum design workshops to make courses and certifications more relevant and valuable.”
  • “[SAP] also has Enablement Executives — part of the global account management team — who develop and present a learning map for key clients to support those clients developing and maintaining skills of its employees working with SAP solutions.”

IDC is also measured and objective in their counsel to customers.  While they credit SAP’s increased focus on understanding and responding to the life cycle of training needs of our customers, they advise that we should seek to better capitalize on the skills assessment data we receive via surveys after the completion of classes to help prioritize and improve our portfolio.  On the whole, this is an extremely positive report for SAP.

“A key goal of SAP Education is to ensure that all customer audiences can build the knowledge they need to successfully use SAP solutions” said Markus Schwarz, Global Head – SAP Education. “This recognition from IDC validates our efforts to provide an innovative portfolio of software, content and services to our customers and partners, and underscores SAP’s commitment to supporting rapid customer adoption.

Read the full report from IDC and the newsbyte issued by SAP on March 19th.  Posted on March 20th, 2012.

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      It is unfortunate that the report only assesses a vendor's range of educational offerings and how these are administered.  The visualisation which has a leaders component is based on capabilities and strategies.  Unfortunately it does not reflect the effectiveness a vendor's IT education.  Most of the information the report designers used to create the report came from the vendors who obviously had a vested interest.  The authors indicated that they spoke to end users but these comments were not published.  There is no doubt SAP has a large range of courses offered through a variety of mediums.  They have administrative procedures to market, enroll and collect money from the participants. 

      One major flaw of the report is what has been omitted. Surely the role of IT Education is to educate and improve the use of a solution.  This should be the major objective. Costs should be covered and there may be even room for a small profit for future development.  Therefore the focus of this report should have been the impact of IT Education on skills in the marketplace rather than the educational strategy and supporting infrastructure of vendors.  The authors of the report identified shortcomings of vendors but did not use these to assess their capabilities.  This is summed up by

      "Measuring the impact of training on the enterprise is frequently weak. Most vendors have a limited understanding of the performance measures that their training is intended to influence. Therefore, they are unable to describe the business impact that successfully trained or skilled workers will have on the performance of the related technology. This disconnect makes it difficult to effectively describe the opportunity cost of spending a dollar on training as opposed to some other essential need." IDC

      From a research perspective to indicate that a company is a leader as per the IDC classification is misleading.  50% of the SAP bubble is in the Leaders section while the other half is in the Major Player section.  Only 10% of the Microsoft bubble is in the Leaders section and they have also been identified as a Leader.  When all assessed vendors are clustered close together does this really provide any valuable information?

      So what is the purpose of the report and more importantly who buys it?  I doubt the report will cause customers to reflect on any of their previously made decisions.  The people who benefit most are the vendors and probably purchase the report for marketing.  However only the Vendors in the Leader section would be interested.  That may explain the "rigorous" methodology that places 6 of the 11 assessed vendors in the leaders section.

      Paul Hawking
      SAP Academic Programs Director
      Victoria University

      SAP Mentor