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RIM Ramps Up BlackBerry Certifications

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Mobile device maker Research In Motion rushes to meet demand for expertise as the popular hand-held continues to infiltrate enterprises.

An early adopter of Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry Smartphone, Salt River Project, one of Arizona’s largest utility companies, today supports 1,600 devices and adds 30 new accounts monthly. The company has about 5,000 employees. It’s no surprise to learn that Salt River Project is rallying around RIM’s recently introduced BlackBerry certification programs.

“When we hire, we’ll definitely require that the job candidate is BlackBerry certified,” says Alex Logvin, enterprise messaging analyst at Salt River Project, Phoenix, Ariz.

The primary BlackBerry administator at his company, Logvin didn’t receive any formal training on the device some seven years ago when his company first road tested the smartphone and quickly ramped up. He was very impressed, however, with the recently introduced BlackBerry certifications he recently earned.

“They asked the right questions and the training is scenario-based,” says Logvin.

In May of this year, RIM launched the BlackBerry Certification program to provide an empirical means of measuring and validating real-world skills and knowledge used in planning, administering and supporting BlackBerry deployments.

Peter Broughall, vice president of customer support operations at RIM, reports that customer demand was the key driver to the certification program rollout.

“Many enterprise customers rely on IT for device support. We always offered training but knew it was time to take the next step and offer certification,” he says.

RIM is offering four certifications in 2008:

  • BlackBerry Certified System Administrator – for technical professionals who install, configure and manage the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution.

  • BlackBerry Certified Server Support Specialist – for technical specialists supporting BlackBerry Enterprise Server and its associated components.

  • BlackBerry Certified Support Specialist – for specialists who support BlackBerry smartphone users in a BlackBerry Internet Service or BlackBerry Enterprise Server environment.

  • BlackBerry Certified Solution Designer – for technical professionals who provide pre- and post-sales technical consulting services to organizations that have deployed the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution.

    Additional certifications will be available in 2009 including: Blackberry Certified Enterprise Application Developer; BlackBerry Certified Trainer; BlackBerry Sales Expert; and Blackberry Expert User. Organizational certifications planned for 2009 include BlackBerry Certified Reseller and BlackBerry Certified Training Center.

    Time To Get Proactive

    Bill Hughes, principal analyst at In-Stat, believes the time is right for the RIM Blackberry certifications.

    “The horse has left the barn. Our data indicates that it won’t be too long before enterprises are paying more for wireless than wired-line communications,” he says.

    Wireless in the enterprise is big business. “It’s time companies get proactive managing and supporting smartphones the same way they support laptops,” adds Hughes.

    At Salt River Project, a 24/7 business, the Blackberry is seen as a great tool for communication and for after-hours support. It’s rare to see a manager at the company without a Blackberry, according to Logvin.

    The device is used for voice, email and calendaring, but the company also has developed strategic applications for the Blackberry, including an emergency contact application in the event Salt River Project’s network fails and a field order and tracking application.

    While the company expects to send its Blackberry support techs for certification, any employee responsible for the Blackberry Enterprise Server will definitely be required to get the server certification, says Logvin.

    RIM is ramping up exams for its certifications in a number of server environments such as IBM Lotus Domino, Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise.

    Hughes believes a BlackBerry certification will enhance an IT professional’s resume.

    “Given that the Blackberry is the device of choice in the enterprise, certification will improve an individuals marketability,” he says.

    RIM offers certification candidates several training resources including instructor led training; web-based training; and tutorials and resources on its web site. The company is collaborating with Prometric for certification exams, which are offered at more than 3,000 testing sites, worldwide.

    This article was first published on IT Career Planet.

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