Fostering Customer Autonomy and Company Talent Through Anytime, Anywhere Learning

HPE Services

Some managed service providers (MSPs) prefer customers who are entirely reliant on them. They structure their businesses around keeping a tight grip on their clients. This, of course, is not in the customer’s best interest.

We do not practice that model at Rocky Point Technology Group (RPTG). We are an IT partner whose success depends on our customers’ business outcomes. We strive to help them develop the critical solutions and IT skills that they need to be self-sufficient; as a result, they can achieve their goals faster and on their own terms. We create partnerships that accelerate innovation for our customers’ businesses so they can maintain a competitive edge with technology. 

We Value Customer Autonomy and Operational Efficiency

After senior management stints at Intel, Voicestream, T-Mobile, Xircom, Digital Globe, and Westwood College, I had a great deal of experience in the VAR/MSP market and was seriously underwhelmed. I decided to start  RPTG in 2010 because I wanted to use a different approach that puts customer needs first. Many vendors prioritize  margins and growing sales, which is not in the customer’s best interest. RPTG takes a very different approach: we value a customer’s business, technology, and cultural autonomy and devote our focus to what matters most to them. We believe in a strategy that aligns customer needs with the right solution and the right services—thereby enabling the right outcome. Part of that approach encompasses building the technical expertise of our customer’s people resources. The RPTG approach is to enable our customers, particularly the SMB (small and midsize business) market, to drive growth, protect their business, and accelerate digital transformation.  

The best partners give their customers the tools they need to become self reliant.

We are focused on the SMB and enterprise market, and provide support, services, and solutions to our customers based on their needs—not on what our channel partners want us to push. Eleven years into this journey, we have customers coast to coast and throughout North America. 

In the past decade, the IT landscape has changed drastically for our customers. Today  our customers benefit greatly when they strive for operational efficiency. We help to identify issues with their existing infrastructure that limit their business or pose a security threat. In other words, we look at their business requirements, underlying business process, and what they're trying to accomplish instead of focusing solely on getting another sale or consulting engagement.

The Long Wait for Digital Learning Tools

Rocky Point has been a virtual organization since inception, so in many ways, we've had to wait for the tech world to catch up with our way of operating. One of the areas in which the industry lagged was digital learning. For most of the past 11 years, there was no cost effective digital learning to speak of. If you didn't spend lots of money, fly halfway across the country, and spend hours in a classroom, there was no way to formally train people on new technologies.   

Early forms of digital learning were just not up to the task. We needed a solution that kept up with rapidly evolving technology and helped drive organizational digital transformation. It also had to fit with the changing dynamics of how people worked, be it remotely or in an office.

These constraints made training difficult. They proved to be a barrier, specifically for our SMB customers looking for training programs that were affordable and convenient. Many SMBs lacked the time and budget required to send individuals to static, in-person training sessions. Our customers wanted product-specific training for the tools and platforms we provided, but most suppliers had expensive, narrow offerings on their learning products, and their delivery methods were rigid.  

A Breakthrough in the Digital Learning Space

RPTG has been an HPE reseller since day one. We do not touch end-user desktops or provide deskside support, but we handle enterprise-wide systems purchases and have established a good rapport with the company. I spent years looking at digital training solutions, but nothing met my expectations until HPE released a new digital learning platform, HPE Digital Learner—SMB Edition.

HPE Digital Learner—SMB Edition is a subscription-based service designed specifically for SMBs that provides year-long access to online e-learning courses. It offers an economical option for getting the most out of new technologies, as well as the opportunity to learn critical industry skills around cloud, security, digital transformation, and more.

When I first encountered HPE Digital Learner—SMB, my first impression was that it made sense fiscally, operationally, and in maintaining the health of our business. If you have  people working for you that do not have the necessary training, then your business is at risk because they can't handle the demands of the job or the needs of your customers.

I soon realized that the platform could be extremely valuable to us and have a tremendous impact on our business. It is flexible, has HPE technology and includes product agnostic training, and allows us to turn on a dime. We can pinpoint a technology our customers want us to understand and become experts very quickly. HPE Digital Learner—SMB gives us the tools to train our teams in the basics as well as learn the specific technical and industry skills we need to help our customers succeed. As a remote, online learning platform it fits precisely into our customers and our own hybrid workplace plans. 

Certifications and Just-in-Time Training in a Single Platform

We started using HPE Digital Learner—SMB in early 2021. We trained a few people on certain technologies specified by our customers, and after our trial expired, we expanded our use. While we used the platform internally, we simultaneously gauged the potential of reselling HPE Digital Learner—SMB to our customers as a tool to help them achieve self-sufficiency. 

HPE Digital Learner—SMB provides the just-in-time training and the certifications we need to stay up to date, especially in the rapidly-changing cybersecurity space. The solution also helps with certification in various high-level security concepts, like ethical hacking, CISSP, and even basic skillsets like Azure management and administration.

Employees no longer have to go through an entire certification process to answer a customers' specific question. Instead, our employees can engage in bite-sized training tailored to a particular customer need or issue at hand. 

Training for Every Level of Employee

Unlike other digital learning platforms, HPE Digital Learner—SMB delves into core technical training and it also covers IT industry training important to SMB like cloud computing, security and digital transformation. Because of this breadth of information, RPTG employees can drill down from high-level training on IT best practices to laser-focused instruction on the specific tool, technology, or technique that they need to learn right now. 

For example, I can earn the same certifications as my network architects and infrastructure engineers. This allows me to speak with authority on technical matters. This helps me with understanding a customer's needs, or discussing an issue with one of my technicians. People at every level within the organization can have more effective dialogue because we all have access to the same high-quality training.

A Better Understanding the Products We Sell and Support

IT is constantly changing direction. HPE Digital Learner—SMB helps us navigate these changes, whether its security, cloud automation, edge networking, or more advanced technologies on the horizon. Our customers pull us in many directions, and HPE Digital Learner—SMB helps us better understand the products we sell and support.

With HPE Digital Learner—SMB, we can train our employees without breaking the bank or breaking their backs. We also allow our employees to undergo training during business hours when they're not working on a customer project. Again, this makes it easier for both companies and individuals.

Flexible, on-demand training is a great incentive and one of the best ways to retain qualified IT staff.

This flexibility is a great way to keep technicians and engineers happy. The best IT people love learning and take advantage of it when it’s offered. As a bonus, I no longer have to worry about hiring new people with specific product or platform skills when staffing a project. Instead, I look internally for employees who have the right people skills and a general technical background and train them in the specifics with HPE Digital Learner—SMB. It's a better investment, and it's become an important part of our overall benefits package.

At the organizational level, HPE Digital Learner—SMB allows us to effect change one person at a time. If we decide to go in a new direction, like adopting agile, scrum, or DevOps, we don't have to drag everyone to a corporate retreat or send my engineers off for a week of training. We can pivot quickly based on the situation in front of us. As the IT landscape continues to evolve, we look forward to growing our—and our customers’—businesses, embracing changes using skills we acquired from HPE Digital Learner—SMB.

Competing on Value Instead of Scale

RPTG is not a large company. Rather than compete on scale, we compete on value. And to drive that value, we’ve come to rely on HPE Digital Learner—SMB to drive our customers to self-education. It is about empowering them so they don’t need our support as often, which builds trust.  

When our customers can handle more of the daily operational hurdles themselves, we can dedicate time and effort towards more labor-intensive issues. Customers lower their support costs, and we can better allocate our human and technical resources. Everybody wins.