Maureen Lonergan is director of Amazon Web Services Training and Certification. Views are the author's own.
Compared to traditional, legacy IT infrastructure models, the cloud offers huge potential for delivering successful, innovative business outcomes, regardless of business size. However, while organizations are eager to realize these benefits, a full 90% of IT decision makers say their businesses lack adequate cloud skills training.
One solution proven to be effective is including a comprehensive training program as part of an organization's cloud transformation initiative. From building your teams' skills to encouraging a cloud-first mindset, a comprehensive training approach helps you create your own pools of cloud talent, which is instrumental in helping your organization's cloud-adoption goals. In fact, organizations are increasingly choosing to invest in training existing staff over hiring outside talent, and data shows that those organizations that provide staff with comprehensive training at the onset are 80% faster to adopt the cloud.
What is comprehensive cloud training?
Comprehensive training consists of both deep technical training for key IT teams, and broad training in cloud fundamentals for general stakeholders, like sales or marketing staff.
The more your employees understand the cloud, the faster your organization can become a cloud-first organization. Being cloud-first reshapes how an organization thinks about technology and involves all your staff, leading to collaboration across teams and cloud fluency.
Spreading cloud fluency through cloud skills training yields benefits such as:
- Providing employees with the knowledge and the confidence to innovate faster and experiment more broadly.
- Eliminating barriers between business and technical staff, since everyone is using common terminology.
- Increasing collaboration among teams by quickly translating customer needs into technical solutions.
Following are five steps to stand up a comprehensive cloud training program and foster cloud fluency across your organization.
1. Build your cloud advocate communities
Adoption of the cloud begins through a top-down approach of enabling a core group of employees who understand the potential and practical application of the cloud. This group is the Cloud Enablement Engine and is comprised of cloud experts, who hold various roles in the organization — such as developer, network engineer, database administrator, or security or finance experts. They evangelize and institutionalize best practices and frameworks, manage the organization's leap to the cloud, and catalyze your cloud education program. In doing so, they act as influencers and internal mentors, fostering change from within.
2. Assess your cloud skills gap and prioritize targets
Before determining an approach to training, identify the organization's cloud skills gaps. This can be done through a Learning Needs Analysis, which assesses an organization's current skill levels and identifies skills gaps — and specific business areas — that will see the greatest impact from cloud training. Organizations can use the analysis to develop a plan outlining where training investments should be directed, and how to engage employees in the program.
3. Create customized training paths
Once knowledge gaps are identified, organizations can build out a specific training and industry certification plan with customized programs that support specific goals, technical needs, and the varied skill levels of the employees involved.
Comprehensive training should include plans for who gets trained, in which domains, and a schedule for when they get trained, as well as how that training is delivered. To reach all employees, organization should utilize multiple learning methods, including on-site and virtual private learning, events and programs with goal markers and curriculum tracks.
These trainings can also foster opportunities for hands-on, real-world projects and gamified engagements that can all spark continued interest in learning, encourage participation, and build community.
4. Promote continued skills development through industry certification
Certification is not just for IT staff, with industry certifications ranging from cloud fundamentals to professional and specialty levels. Achieving certification bolsters confidence and makes employees more efficient, while adding value to the organization: 43% of IT professionals say certification helps them perform their jobs faster and 94% of decision-makers believe that having employees achieve industry certification adds value above and beyond the cost of certification.
5. Support continuous learning
When it comes to cloud training, not only does such investment lead to positive business results but it helps foster a learning-oriented company culture. Any programs implemented should only be one part of a model of continuous learning initiatives. One-off skills training initiatives may be applicable to meet the needs of specific teams or projects, whereas a more inclusive long-term learning strategy for every team member can lead to broader innovation across the business that keeps all employees at pace with the industry.
Establishing your training model for future success
Cloud technologies — combined with comprehensive training initiatives — can transform both an organization's IT infrastructure and the business as a whole. Equipping employees with a cloud-first mindset and the relevant skills to fully leverage the cloud starts with understanding current knowledge gaps. Investing in holistic cloud learning allows an organization to transform in profound ways, engendering sustained growth and innovation for the long-term.