As Executive Vice President, skills certification for CompTIA, Terry Erdle is responsible for the association's global certifications programs, including product development and delivery, partnership relationships, and cooperation with the education and training communities.
Before joining CompTIA in 2008, Mr. Erdle was the President of Jones Knowledge Group, a $30 million privately-held training company and accredited university. He was responsible for consolidating five separate knowledge services businesses into a cohesive group. He also played an active leadership role in the areas of sales, marketing and program development.
From 1998 to 2006, Mr. Erdle held several senior executive positions for Sun Microsystems, Inc. He began his career at Sun as Vice President and General Manager, Sun Education and Knowledge Services; served as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Services and Solutions; and was Senior Vice President, Global Services Sales and Managed Services Practice.
Mr. Erdle also has held executive and senior sales, marketing and business development positions with Information Handling Services, Autotrol Technology, Mattel Toys and Lockheed Martin.
Mr. Erdle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Philosophy from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado; and a Master of Science-Computer Science degree from Oxford University, Oxford, England.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Can you detail your prior executive roles and some shareable lessons you learned from each role that the audience will find valuable?
"....You really have to understand how technology is used across a multiplicity of jobs, how different technologies are used: how they are used to deliver services and how they are used to create new services...."
What are the top challenges in your current role?
"....If you survey a lot of employers, HR directors, IT directors and managers, you'll find that professional certifications have surpassed college degrees in importance in the hiring process....Challenges: To convince learners and employers of the necessity of certification on top of just the learning that they've gone through....Making the case to employers that having a certified workforce is really important and results in higher quality and longevity for your top employees....There are a large number of IT jobs in America and around the world and we are producing fewer and fewer people in IT...."
What measures will demonstrate success for you at CompTIA?
"....Certifications we do per year....The ratio of those who are training to those who are testing....I think that ultimate success will be when we see that gap start to shrink and hopefully in a growing economy that we actually start to see the open IT jobs start to shrink...."
You are talking about a shortage; I assume that's a North American shortage. Do you have sense of what the total global shortage is in IT workers and are there regional differences?
"....Definitely regional differences. We do focus heavily on the US because that is where we can get the data most readily. But I do travel around the world and I find there are pockets where the shortage doesn't readily exist as markedly as ours but not many. It's really few and far between where they're exporting IT people...."
CompTIA is very well known around the world and partly it's because of the quality of your partners. Who are your partners and why are they there?
"....Content partners who actually build content or the exams that we create....Partners who deliver the training to support CompTIA certification....We also depend heavily on the academic or educational groups around the world....One of the most important sets of partners that we have are the subject matter experts who actually build the exam items for us....We have representation from around the world for the different technologies, different cultures, and so on....Right now we've got about 1600 partners around the world and we feel there's a lot of room to grow...."
How important is ISO, ANSI and other kinds of standards to CompTIA and why?
"....There has to be some valid measurement of performance and ISO and ANSI have really stepped up as that validated measure, an accepted way to identify really proven, reliable credentials that have been developed and delivered the right way, and have that credibility and have stood the test of time. There are some great certifications out there that are not ISO and ANSI certified and not all of ours are either....You're going to see many more of the CompTIA certifications ISO and ANSI qualified...."
Do you also conform with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)?
"....Any kind of standardization that we can get around the terminology, around the job description and that's a lot of what NIST has been doing around their cyber-security frameworks and others, we think those are important. We participate very closely with them and we've got a couple of people on our team that spend most of their lives in Washington and other places meeting with these folks. We want to make sure that we understand what they are doing and that we are at the table representing the IT industry from the vendor-neutral perspective...."
How many are working in computing today, in two years and in five years?
"....We're assuming that the economy is getting back on track and that in 2 to 5 years it will grow by a factor probably in the factor of 1.3....History has shown that technology has been a driver, a productivity driver coming in and out of any kind of challenging economic situation....I think as we go forward we're going to see that again...."
Do you have a sense of the impact on ICT on GDP growth or ICT capacity building on innovation?
"....We look at where we see hotspots around the US most specifically, but around the world in terms of where we see IT growing, Indonesia, Malaysia, Eastern Europe....We look at domains, I try to understand what kinds of technology are impacting the world...."
Does your group get involved in any sort of policy or formulate or influence policy?
"....We have a public policy group centered in Washington....We have had impact globally....We are making sure that we're at the table and insuring that IT is a very robust component of that conversation and the kind of credentials both academic and commercial certifications like ours are recognized and funded just like anything else...."
What are the top regions that have the highest growth numbers in computing workers and what are those numbers and why?
"....Globally it's very hard to nail a number down because of the breadth IT has across these industries...It's very difficult to pinpoint a number beyond a gross number that we talked about at 35 million growing at 1.3 in 2 to 5 years...."
How would interested parties engage and utilize all the IT and become a partner?
"....We've got people all around the world — 20 countries around the world where we're represented. We can have people participate in these forums and talk to the standard, how we are built, why it's important, and we try to pull in as much local data as we can to make it relevant....Our certifications are the same worldwide....What we do is access the need then we can align partners who can ensure there is either sufficient training in local languages if needed (a lot of countries want to do it in English), but we can do things in a multitude of languages....We're the largest vendor-neutral certifying body in the world from an IT perspective...."
What are the top computing areas or domains that have the highest growth rates and why?
"....Security, Storage, Cloud, Mobility — those are probably the 4 biggest that I'm seeing around the world...."
Terry talks about the top areas of computing certifications that are showing the highest growth and also talks about the dominant certifications by provider and domain.
How big is the global certification marketplace?
"....IDC feels the global education marketplace will reach about 23 billion dollars this year. That's the training and certification....Most of that 23 billion is in training because a lot of those people aren't certifying....We are looking at fairly sustained growth in the 4% space as we look at things through 2015...."
What are the benefits of your new certifications?
"....We got into new domains....We find that getting IT introduced properly to non-traditional technology audiences is extremely important. It's also important as we are moving into mobility now that these will be technical specifications, technical credentials for how to deploy mobile assets. New domain areas are a big part of the value. Storage is going to be a big domain area....It's great from our perspective to be able to net all this together to show they can really build a career with all these credentials and that's a big part of what we are trying to do...."
How do certifications differ by region?
"....The actual certifications that we provide around world are identical, and that to me is one of the strengths of it. That said we do have to look at local customs when you start talking about education and education systems....The content is the same, the demand is different. The differences by region are what they are demanding...."
How is the certification marketplace evolving in two and five years?
"....The biggest thing that we've got to get across is access....In 2 to 3 years we've seen a revolution in computing and access to IT services, and I think in the certification space you are going to see the same kind of impact — it's all about access to those exams and the learning...."
Do you look at the innovation with MITx where they are going to offer certification with all of that open courseware or all of that drive of audience with Conn Academy?
"....Not everybody learns the same way and you have to have this multiplicity of learning modalities available for people to tap into what their particular learning style is....We're going to stick with staying the ANSI route because I think that's what helps us maintain that credibility. We're going to help move that standard along to reflect other testing modalities as long as we can ensure the security around them...."
How many testing centers are you affiliated with worldwide?
"....Right now about 8 - 10,000, depending on what time of the year because a lot of testing centers are affiliated with schools...."
How are educational technologies evolving into the future?
"....Seeing the integration of video and expert video with simulation and having this e-learning environment which is not only less expensive, but is really the mode that most of the young learners are accustomed to operating....We really think that social networking, peer-to-peer learning is extremely important and it's going to be a dominant delivery mode for all kinds of training....I think what you're going to see is all those different modalities, and you will be able to dip in and out of which of the pieces are best for you...."
What are the top resources that you use?
"....RSS feeds that basically feed me factoids from all over the world on IT....I read a tremendous amount on a weekly basis....People are probably the most important resource....Making sure that you're connected to a technology group, that you are working with 'birds of a feather'....Conferences and forums....Being able to travel around the world...."
What are the top disruptive technologies and how will they have impact?
"....The laptops and tablet computing, iPad type modalities where it's really mobility and cloud....Access to broadband and being able to do your job from a mobile perspective is huge. That has a huge disruptive impact on the IT training space. Being able to access the same kind of computing resources that Intel or IBM uses; all of a sudden as a small setup I can have a big company look and the ability to deliver much more big company services than a small startup could have had 10 years ago. That's extremely disruptive...."
What specific challenges and opportunities should IT practitioners and businesses embrace today and into the future?
"....Mobility and Cloud computing...."
What innovations should we be watching for in the next five years?
"....I'm really not an IT prognosticator, but I think access to very high-end networking software that really connects and computes power everywhere and connects those to energy sources that we don't even know about now....I think you'll see this broadband everywhere....You're going to see the full build out of that globally....Fantastic advances in battery technology....Less on the technology side I think you're going to see a massive change in the computing models that are out there...."
Describe some areas of controversy in the areas that you work.
"....It's a little bit controversial that public school systems around the world adopt so much software and technology from one or two specific vendors and make that the basis of their education. But at the same time, those two companies have been extremely forthcoming in providing great technology for educators and trying to get IT into the classroom....The other controversial piece is the level to which we move testing outside of the classroom into something that is remotely proctored....I think IT ownership is always going to be a challenging one especially when you get into crowdsourcing IT training...."
What is the value in professional associations for computing professionals?
"....I think there's nothing like real world experience, hearing from somebody who's in a similar role to yours, hearing what their challenges are, how they overcame them and that's really what you get from professional associations. You get connections for your career...."
What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and recognized non-licensing based credentials?
[See http://www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
"....That's exactly what we are trying to do at CompTIA and in conjunction with a dozen other computing credentialing groups around the world - to actually build that fabric of credentials that suffices for that level of professionalism that has broadened those other professions. I think that it is absolutely amiss on the IT profession that we don't have a recognized set of credentials or levels that people get to in this space, a la the Bar Associations, the AMA, the ADA, etc...."
Terry shares his deep insights and a candid conversation on each of the emerging technologies between CIOs versus CTOs and the five areas are: technology to grow revenue versus technology to increase efficiencies, the impact of business driving the technology decisions, technology perspectives from the customer's point of view, are CIOs becoming the chief innovation officer, and other hot topics in this area.
"....What you are getting back to now is a CIO actually being a Chief Information Officer, complemented by a Chief Technology Officer who's looking at technological improvements that both increase the efficiency of the business and change the services available by a business to send to their customers....I think they're both necessary and as I said one is more internally focused and one is more externally focused...."
Terry shares his deep insights and has a candid discussion on Governance/Board Insights and on what the board is really thinking. The topic areas are: the board's top 3 concerns as it relates to the integration of technology and business, who do board members rely on within the organization, deploying an IT governance program, innovation and its impact on the organization's future success, and preparing the work force for the future.
"....It's kind of related to the previous question. The CIO and CTO ought be great resources for the board to be talking to....From an IT perspective it's more about organizational resiliency and adaptability that they should be managing, and making sure that there are some plans there....One of the great misses that I see often on a board is that you have this great expertise sitting there and some members ask them to read a board book once a quarter and give a little bit of input...."
From your extensive speaking, travels, and work, please share some stories (amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing).
"....There's something surprising and amusing and unexpected almost anywhere you go in the world because it is such a dynamic market that we operate in....IT almost stretches into every industry and I think the IT component of those industries is often the most innovative part of all of them...."
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask, and then what would be your answer?
"....It's been all about academic degrees for hundreds of years. One of the things that I think has to change is that those are good backgrounds but you also have to have credentialed skills. How are you changing the employers' attitudes towards that?...."
Music by Sunny Smith Productions and Shaun O'Leary