Virtual Edge Institute announced a Digital Event Strategist certification. The certification will launch in June at the PCMA Education Conference in Baltimore. This signals an important development in the evolution of our industry. Here are the phases that I anticipate seeing.
Phase I: Focus on Education and Training
The Virtual Edge Institute (VEI) certification program is the only structured and formalized training program in the digital events space today. As a result, it will be quite attractive to “newbies” looking to get into the industry (i.e. land their first job). It will also attract experienced digital events professionals who’d like to sharpen their skills or take their knowledge and capabilities to the next level.
I expect that participants in the certification program will also benefit from the opportunity to connect and collaborate with industry peers. While the industry is still small, it can be challenging to meet and connect with the folks doing the same job (as you) at other companies. I’d expect VEI to build community programs around their certification, such as groups (within their existing web site), LinkedIn groups, etc.
Phase II: Focus on the Certification for Career Advancement
While the focus on Phase I was to receive basic education, the program advances to Phase II once a critical mass of professionals achieve certification. As with any certification program, the early days involve a “chicken and egg” phenomenon, whereby the certification doesn’t take hold until enough people enroll – and, people hold off on enrolling until they see enough “others” doing it.
How can you tell when Phase II arrives? When employers of digital event strategists make the certification a difference maker in the hiring process – and, when the strategists “headline” the certification on their resume or LinkedIn profile. When we reach this phase, strategists will be compelled to enroll in the program in order to stay current with best practices – and, to advance their careers.
Phase III: Specialization and Standards
As a certification (and the corresponding industry) grows, it often necessitates specialization, as a broad program may no longer be sufficient to address specialized skills. In digital events, I anticipate specialized certification in the areas of rich media production, hybrid events, mobile technologies and project management. That’s right – I think it makes sense to have a certification around project management of digital events.
In addition to certification, it would make sense for VEI to define and develop standards for the industry – things like standardization of terminology (e.g. exactly how do you define “virtual event”), the definition and publishing of ROI models, and comparative benchmarks that buyers can use to evaluate digital event platforms and services.
I’m looking forward to the launch of this certification program. While it will be interesting to look at uptake when this program rolls out in June, I’m sure the true impact of the program will be over the long term.