Melanie Botha, Head of Training and Certification at Amazon Web Services ANZ shares her insight on bringing your team up to speed when it comes to cloud computing.
Cloud computing has introduced a significant shift in how technology is obtained, used, and managed. It’s given organisations the ability to operate at massive economies of scale, make agile capacity decisions, increase organisational speed and agility, eliminate spend on data centres, and go global in minutes. No matter what industry or type of business you’re in, cloud adoption requires that fundamental changes are discussed, considered, and supported across the entire organisation – both within IT and non-IT organisations.
But first, what is the cloud?
‘The Cloud’ is really just a way of describing software and technology services that you rent, instead of own. It is a set of data centres around the world containing huge servers which provide vast amounts of data storage capacity. The cloud can be accessed from any device including mobile phones, computers, wearable technologies and even IoT (Internet of Things) devices embedded into inanimate objects.
Why embrace the cloud?
There is a clear and steep rise in demand for cloud skills. From an infrastructure standpoint, synergising your business with cloud technologies creates efficiencies across the organisation, and reduces cost. But with all departments utilising cloud applications, enabling your staff to share a foundational level of cloud knowledge, becomes a powerful business differentiator and will pay dividends for you and your employees for many years to come.
Put simply: Once all employees can speak the language of the cloud and understand its capabilities, they’ll be able to move from idea to execution quickly and collaboratively.
No longer does a business unit need to wait for IT resources to be available to develop a new customer experience improvement. With firsthand knowledge of the cloud, your staff can be empowered to think bigger than ever before.
Building organisational buy-in and enthusiasm
Educating your organisation on the cloud – from top to bottom, and unilaterally – is one of many best practices in enterprises who have implemented and executed successful cloud strategies. By doing this, you’ll turn sceptical employees into organisational transformation champions, making a huge difference in how quickly your organisation can leverage the cloud to deliver results.
The steps to building cloud fluency
There are five fundamental steps to successfully implement cloud fluency education and a culture of learning in your organisation.
Build your champions
Most organisations already have a wealth of institutional knowledge and cultural practices within its walls. Activate these individuals to become champions for cloud adoption, and the learning culture you want to see within your organisation. Nominate champions from across the organisation, in diverse roles (not just managers or senior individuals), both IT and non-IT, and give them permission to participate and lead. This, combined with buy-in from the most senior leaders, who lead the way in supporting organisational adjustments, will engender success for the cloud education program.
Train your people
Next comes the training itself. Select a training partner that aligns with your technology infrastructure to maximise the short- and long-term impact of the knowledge. Assess the current skill level of your employees and in collaboration with your cloud education champions, provide a mix of digital learning, formal training courses with live instruction, immersion days, and hands-on labs. Bringing your people along for the journey, by providing them with training and pathways for development will drive greater staff retention and satisfaction, as well as improve productivity and collaboration.
During the training process, it is important to reinforce and create a culture of learning within your organisation. Your training partners can teach you, “how to cloud” but your staff will be in the best position to teach you how to cloud within YOUR organisation. Set structured opportunities for people across the organisation to share their expertise, experiments, learnings, code, best practices, and failures. Your champions can be the catalysts to set these opportunities up and drive participation.
Build and innovate
Put the knowledge to the test and have your teams get hands-on with cloud technology. Organise game days, hackathons, and digital innovator days. Ask your teams to build a website, create an API for some of your data, host a wiki, or build something else tangible that fits into what your teams already do. The best education comes in the form of experience so give your teams a hands-on opportunity to do something meaningful. These hands-on experiences might become game-changing innovations, or they may simply provide education that your teams harness for their next projects.
Celebrate and recognise
Investment in your peoples’ knowledge and skills will benefit your entire organisation, and surrounding communities, so it’s worth talking about! By creating a culture of learning, you are investing in your employees and allowing them to build their skills. Recognise and celebrate those who achieve mastery through industry certification, which will encourage others to invest their time. It will also demonstrate you hire and invest in the best talent, and will encourage others in the market to come and work for your organisation.
Though the above is a simplified version of what you’ll want to undertake, the planning, strategy, and execution of a cloud fluency program will pay dividends for your organisation, as well as your employees’ investment in your organisation’s overall success. Modern cloud-native development is here. The “why” is known; seek and implement the “how” to adopt cloud and train your workforce—both technical and non-technical—to innovate with the cloud.
Melanie Botha is the Head of Training and Certification in Australia and New Zealand, Amazon Web Services.