Cognos puts planning tools on curriculum for online academy

Cognos Inc. will extend its fledgling online training program for consultants next month to cover the latest version of the company’s planning suite.

Modules for Cognos 8 Planning will be added in September to the Cognos Academy, David Pratt, the Ottawa company’s vice-president of global professional services, said Monday. The Academy was introduced in June at the software firm’s annual partner conference along with modules for Cognos Business Intelligence 8.

The approach lets partners use the Internet to bring e-learning courses their offices in preparation for taking detailed training at one of Cognos’ four training centres across Canada, Pratt said. Before, consultants and implementers had to go to the centres for all training.

The taking of certification exams has also been made easier. Rather than go to a Cognos centre, partners can take exams at one of the Thomson Prometric Centres across North America.

The format of Cognos Planning Academy is “essentially the same as the BI Academy,” said Pratt. “It’s a suite of e-learning tools that the partners can do training at their own desktops. Then they will have a workshop offered to them at a Cognos learning site, and then the examination will be done at Thompson.”

Partner staff can be certified one of three user roles in the software: author, modeler and administrator. Those who pass two or more courses earn the certification of Cognos Professional.

“The whole goal of getting the e-learning out in and testing done in local markets is to reduce the amount of travel that partners have to expense,” said Pratt.

While partners will still have to pay for training, Pratt said it will be “much lower” – he estimated 40 per cent – “than they way they took training in the past.”

Evan Ross, a principal at Cognos partner Dimentional Strategies of Toronto, called the addition of online training “a great idea, because as a partner every day I have someone in a classroom is a day I don’t have him billing at a client site. If I can get them the training on a flexible schedule and avoid pulling them out for three or four weeks, that’s a definite advantage for us.”

None of the 15 Cognos consultants on his staff have taken what had been called the Solutions Professional program, Ross said, but with the addition of online training he believes many now will.

Cognos doesn’t require partner staff be certified to sell its products, but Pratt said it “highly recommends” it.

“Increasingly our customers are asking for evidence of a certified consultant before they begin their implementations.”

The addition of online training and Thomson for exams does not mean Cognos classrooms across the country will close, said Pratt. They will remain open for specialized training for both partners and customers, he said.

That includes training consultants for the Cognos Masters certification, which involves passing exams on a “highly complex” set of case studies, said Pratt.

He would like to see 200 consultants certified as Professionals from among Cognos’ 20-odd partners in the next 12 months, and about 25 per cent of them pass the Masters exam.

For the first quarter ending May 31 Cognos pulled in US$217 million, compared with US$200.1 million for the same period last fiscal year. License revenue was US$73.7 million, compared with US$71.1 million in the first quarter of last fiscal year.


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