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Moving to the Cloud? Invest in Your People With These Steps

Companies focused on digital transformation can side-step the cloud skills shortage by looking within their company to develop existing staff.

Cloud computing -- the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet -- is powering an increasing number of experiences today, big and small. For organizations, the cloud is redefining how they can conduct business with unprecedented speed and agility.

But there’s just one problem: a massive shortage of cloud-skilled workers to make it all happen. While Gartner predicts global public cloud spending will grow 22% this year to $482 billion, the ongoing surge finds organizations lacking the IT talent to meet their cloud goals. In fact, 85% of organizations report deficits in cloud expertise.

If digital transformation (DX) is on your plate, you have a few staffing options. One is to address that need through hiring. But that will cost you, in both higher salary requirements for the shallow pool of skilled cloud talent, and relatedly, through delays to your business objectives.

A second option exists, which has a higher return on investment. That is to look within and develop your existing staff. Doing so can help you meet your cloud goals more quickly, and with the added benefit of putting the brakes on The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting trends.

The results of a recent Gallop survey revealed that 72% of workers who use advanced digital skills at work express high job satisfaction, compared to just 43% of workers who only use basic digital skills. By reinforcing your commitment to helping your staff grow their careers with your organization, employee excitement and retention will increase.

Let’s break down how you can shift your company’s staffing narrative from “The Great Resignation” to “The Great Reskilling.”

Paving the Way

Upskilling and reskilling your staff has never been easier thanks to increasingly accessible online, self-paced, and personalized cloud training and certification resources, which -- not so ironically -- have been accelerated by cloud computing. Unlocking the potential of your organization’s talent depends on taking three critical steps: executive sponsorship, access, and follow-through.

Executive Sponsorship

At Principal Financial Group, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Kathy Kay is a firm believer in encouraging continuous upskilling for her global team of 3,000 technical people. It’s really paying off.

When the company upskilled more than 1,600 of its US employees via online training, Kay served as an executive sponsor of the initiative. The global, cloud-first training approach bred agility and efficiency for its cloud migration, while showcasing its collaborative, people-oriented workplace culture. And, the company achieved its goal of accelerating the firm’s cloud adoption, a key differentiator as it navigated the pandemic.

Another big benefit: “We’re fueling a sense of accomplishment that generates excitement with our employees,” Kay remarked.

Access

Cloud isn’t for a select few IT employees anymore; it benefits the entire organization. Giving all employees a foundational understanding of cloud, and building cloud fluency across your staff, will prompt shared ownership in organizational goals.

When the predictive analytics company Verisk decided to move its data centers into the cloud, it followed this access model in designing its training. “We want our entire team to be cloud builders,” said Director of Strategic Technology Robert Dorn. Verisk’s cloud-trained and cloud-fluent employees, including its leaders, are now equipped to adjust to changing circumstances by creating and scaling applications quickly. They are collecting more data than before, and can offer a higher level of service to customers.

Today, the company uses cloud certification to incentivize and recognize its people, and it is helping retain and recruit talent to close its skills gaps. Employees have shifted their mindset from “this is what I have to do” to “this is what I want to do”, driving new ideas and exciting career paths.

Follow-through

Cloud capabilities are continuously evolving, so cloud learning should, too. Cloud training is not a one-and-done endeavor. Your staff needs ongoing opportunities to gain and share knowledge, and to earn recognition for their skills advancement. When training opportunities are flexible and ongoing, it fuels excitement, innovation, and a culture of learning that buoys all aspects of the organization.

In southeast Asia, the digital retailer Zalora gave its employees open access to cloud training, resulting in 120 employees logging more than 6,000 hours of training in six months. Recognizing the desire for ongoing training, Zalora now allots employees five days per month to devote to training. The result? Development work has increased by as much as 30%, delivery timelines have improved, and time to market is quicker.

If your organization is considering a move to cloud -- or has already begun the transition -- the smart move is to invest in training your existing staff. Learning and development programs that help your staff understand the cloud and the vision behind your transformation strategies pay dividends. Forrester Research found that organizations see a 234% return on their cloud training investment within six months. As you build a culture of cloud upskilling and reskilling in your organization, you are in a position to maximize not only your cloud investment, but also to build a strong, loyal and productive organization that transforms your business.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing