Sole vs. Dual Sourcing in the IT Certification Market

Most organizations have to decide at some point whether they're going to use a sole or a dual sourcing model. This decision used to be simple because companies typically chose only one vendor to partner with in a market. Then, some organizations thought that they could save money and resources by working with multiple vendors in a single market. However, many of those companies are finding that there's little benefit to dual sourcing, so many of them have gone back to a sole sourcing model.

On October 5, I spoke with Ray Kelly, senior vice president of client services for Prometric, about sole versus dual sourcing in the IT certification market. Kelly said that many organizations went from sole to dual sourcing in this market to increase the number of test centers that offered their tests because they believed that increasing the number of test sites would increase the number of tests given. However, most of these organizations didn’t see an increase in the number of tests given, so they decided go back to sole sourcing. Many organizations find that the sole sourcing model provides a boost in test customization and lets customers more easily grow their client programs. According to Kelly, “There’s no reason why an organization would dual source today.” Prometric (which was acquired by the Educational Testing Service on October 15) was recently chosen to be Microsoft’s exclusive testing partner. Kelly said that Microsoft chose Prometric for four reasons: Prometric is the leader in providing scalable testing solutions, has a stable underlying business, has the largest testing center network (more than 3,000 testing centers worldwide), and provides an enhanced user experience. In the past, employers didn't see certification as a reason to hire someone, but recently organizations have begun to realize that certification testing is important because it provides a way to have prospective employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities evaluated by an independent group. According to Kelly, there's a skill shortage in the IT industry, IT pros aren’t staying in the same job as long as they used to, and because technology is rapidly advancing, often times having a computer science degree is no longer enough. All of these factors contribute to the accelerating pace of change in the IT industry; therefore, it’s important for employers to know ahead of time that perspective employees have the skills necessary to do their jobs.

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