Canon has pegged the launch of a new online reseller training program pilot as a major investment in the future of its channel.
The program will complement the vendor's current face-to-face training regime handled through its account managers and merchandisers.
"Although that training is of a very high standard, with the time constraints on resellers and our staff there was always the incentive to find a better way to do things," Canon Australia's product training officer, Craig Gillespie, said. "E-learning is the direction we should be pursuing."
The new system, currently undergoing pilot testing, features one module based on the company's newly launched Pixma range of printers.
"The timing of the pilot launch is a coincidence as we'd been looking at this as a strategy for some time," Gillespie said. "We chose to use the Pixma range as it represents a dramatic increase in what we are offering the public, and we need to get that message across to resellers." Training and certification across the whole Canon product range would eventually be introduced, he said.
"This is the first stage of our online development, but we are hoping to develop it into a full-blown program," Gillespie said. "What we'd like to do is have a system in place where once a reseller is qualified, that certification becomes something they can carry with them through their business life.
"It might be drawing a long bow, but we'd like to see our program become industry recognised like Microsoft's MSCE certification."
Canon was currently promoting the training through channel advertising and e-newsletters, Gillespie said, as well as offering resellers who completed the module the chance to win a Pixma printer.
"We want to educate people on the benefit of learning the technical side to our products."
Despite grand plans for the online program, Canon would also continue to conduct face-to-face training for some time, Gillespie said.
"The quality of knowledge we have internally as well as the personal relationships we develop in our training is something we don't want to abandon by any stretch of the imagination," he said. "The online training is more of a tool for resellers with time constraints or who are located in regional areas - we don't want them to feel short changed."