As we described in the first Pillar of our Safe Networks philosophy, technology is the crucial foundation of your network. Choosing the right technology is the necessary starting point in safe network design. Of course, when we choose any network technology tool, we want it to be installed and configured by experts.
Net Friends only chooses technology solutions from vendors who have an established certification and formal learning program. Even the best tools will underperform or even fail spectacularly without a knowledgeable person to bring them into your business.
The Importance of Vendor Certifications
Anyone can take online classes or read an installation manual, but it takes someone with a true understanding of the material to be certified. To obtain an official certification, you must commit to deep study and be able to demonstrate proficient skills by proving your knowledge and training on a formal, proctored exam. You are typically required to score 70% (and in some cases, 85%) or higher in order to get a passing grade. Often these are 90-minute exams that require weeks of intense preparation and study, and the failure rates for some tests are well over 50% of all applicants who attempt them.
Net Friends has a robust Professional Development program with official vendor certifications as a centerpiece. We provide ample support and direct monetary incentives for our technicians to go all the way through vendor-provided training and achieve an official certification. This fulfills an implicit promise we give to our customers: the Net Friends technicians who provide IT services are true experts. Our customers can rightfully expect that our solution engineers are well-trained and well-versed in our core Tech Stack platforms.
On the flipside, if we tried to support all types of technology available on the market (the good, the bad, and the ugly), we would never be able to ensure that our technicians are properly trained and certified on a multitude of technology platforms.
Empowering IT Generalists to Advance
It is common in the IT industry to celebrate generalists – people who are “the Jack or Jane of all trades” (and “master of none” as that expression is completed). We have a soft spot for these IT professionals, because they typically started their IT journey on a non-traditional education path.
The hallmark traits of an IT generalist include: an aptitude to be resourceful, the ability to produce inventive results, and a talent for leveraging their ingenuity to unlock functional outcomes. Their efforts deserve a hat tip, because they are necessity-driven problem-solvers.
Sure, any smart troubleshooter can navigate their way through a console when servicing technology systems. By gut instinct (or happenstance), they may even find commonalities in their troubleshooting steps with the actual proper procedures. However, the possibility of errors and omissions is way too high when you are operating blindly in an unfamiliar system.
This is why we love investing in the potential of IT generalists, who possess that resourceful spirit. We do so by empowering them to gain official mastery of a technology solution by becoming platform specialists.
We want to ensure that our technicians possess comprehensive knowledge on how to maximize the features and potential value of a vendor’s product. That outcome in itself is central to all professional certifications.
There are many IT service providers who will claim to have a deep bench of skilled IT specialists and technical experts, but in practice, do not prioritize and incentivize official platform training and certifications. Far too often, IT companies are stuck in the generalist hiring loop and have no formal strategy to develop their technical staff beyond being break-fix technicians. We don’t express this sentiment to disgrace our peers in the IT industry, but rather to inspire a change in the tides and to see more IT companies equip their IT generalist staff with what they need to break that ceiling.
Changing the Industry Landscape
More IT experts with specialized systems training in our field will fortify this vision we have for universal safe networks in every business and organization, whether you are a Net Friends customer or not.
We cemented professional certifications as the second pillar to our Safe Networks Philosophy, because we believe that this is a viable pathway to creating a world where we can trust the systems that connect us and securely collaborate using our shared tools to tackle complex problems.
Our sales professionals are also trained in our Tech Stack products as well. This ensures that we only promote the right solutions for your needs, and accurately describe how those solutions will give you the business outcomes you seek. We pursue win/win and lasting relationships with our customers, and this starts in our initial conversations before a business chooses to become our customer.
Becoming certified in a specific technology is not the end of the IT expert’s learning trajectory. I’d place certifications at the “end of the beginning” in a Net Friends’ career path, as all newly certified technicians and solution engineers have at least reached an intermediate skill level with any platform they are trained in. To achieve advanced skills and true expertise, that requires hands-on training and real-world experience. We will delve into that further for the 3rd Pillar of our Safe Networks Philosophy.
Our Universal Safe Networks Blog Series:
- How We Developed Our Approach to Security (Introduction)
- The First Cornerstone to Safe Network Design: Technology Stack (Pillar One)
- Why You Need Technology Specialists (Pillar Two) - You Are Here
- The Stack Lab: Meeting Cybersecurity Hands-On (Pillar Three)