From education to employment

Six fundamental steps to successfully implement cloud fluency education and a culture of learning in your organisation

By Maureen Lonergan, director, AWS Training and Certification

Why it’s important to build cloud fluency in your organisation 

Cloud computing has introduced a significant shift in how technology is obtained, used, and managed. It’s given organisations the ability to trade capital expense for variable expense, operate at massive economies of scale, make agile capacity decisions, increase organisational speed and agility, reduce costs, and go global easily. No matter what industry you’re in or the size of the business you have, cloud adoption requires that fundamental changes are discussed, considered, and supported across the entire organisation – both within IT and non-IT organisations.

But how do you encourage your organisation, specifically staff in non-IT roles, to embrace learning about the cloud and possibly even obtain industry certifications in cloud technology?

There is a clear and steep rise in demand for cloud skills, and it’s not just within your organisation’s IT department. From an infrastructure standpoint, synergising your business with cloud technologies creates efficiencies across the organisation and reduces cost. If all departments utilise cloud applications, you are enabling staff to share a foundational level of cloud knowledge. This becomes a powerful business differentiator.

As an advocate for, and someone who has developed education programmes at a global scale for more than 20 years, I’m confident that cloud training will pay dividends for you and for your employees for many years to come.

Put more simply: Once all employees can speak the language of the cloud, can understand its capabilities and what can be developed in the cloud, they can get from an idea to execution much more 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. Cloud fluency can be built across an organisation and there are a few fundamental steps that can support you on this journey.

Building organisational buy in and enthusiasm

Educating your organisation on the cloud – from top to bottom, and unilaterally – is one of many best practices I’ve observed in enterprises that have implemented and executed successful cloud strategies. By doing this, you’ll turn skeptical employees into organizational transformation champions, making a huge difference in how quickly your organisation is able to leverage the cloud to deliver results.

Therefore, we created the AWS Skills Guild, a tailored educational experience which helps build the skills an organisation needs to get the best from the AWS Cloud and support key initiatives and projects. Purposefully structured, but also fun and engaging, the programme generates excitement about AWS, increasing affinity with the technology and creating an enthusiastic learning culture. In participating, enterprises build cloud skills and cloud fluent builders who are empowered with the skills, ownership, and confidence they need to innovate.

The six steps to building cloud fluency

There are six fundamental steps to successfully implement cloud fluency education and a culture of learning in your organisation.

1. Build your champions

Most organisations, often unknowingly, already have access to a wealth of knowledge and best practices around technology and IT within their company. Tenured employees, those who have been worked for the organisation for a few years, often have a breadth of knowledge and experience that can be shared and explored. Empower these individuals to become champions for cloud adoption and the learning culture you want to see within your organisation. You can nominate champions from across the organisation, – people from diverse roles and backgrounds (not just managers or senior individuals), both in IT and non-IT roles – and give them permission to participate and lead

2. Lead by example

Change management is central to any new organisational programme, large or small. It requires buy-in from the most senior leaders, who lead the way in supporting adjustments that will engender success for the cloud education programme. It is also these leaders – and your champions from above – who will communicate to the organisation the purpose and expected benefits of the change. Develop a clear communications plan that seeks to reach all levels of the organisation with clear guidance about the cloud education programme, how each employee will be involved, and how it will fit in with their existing workloads. Initiate forums for feedback, questions, and open dialogue about what the programme means to the business.

3. Train your people

Training is a crucial element in enabling cloud fluency in your organisation. Select a training partner that aligns with your technology infrastructure to maximise the short and long-term impact of the training. Assess the current skill level of your employees to best design learning paths by role and skill level in your organisation. From there, your training partner, in collaboration with your cloud education champions, can provide a mix of digital learning and formal training courses with online classes, immersion days, and hands-on labs. Providing your employees with training and pathways for development will drive greater staff retention and satisfaction, as well as improve productivity and collaboration.

4. Share knowledge

For any organisation, it is important to create a culture of learning. Encourage people to share their knowledge and expertise, best practices and also failures – learning from your peers can be very effective. The “cloud champions” can act as catalysts, driving participation and motiving others to take industry-recognised certification exams, enroll in online courses, or create and join company-wide study groups. Acquiring industry certifications will help validate your employees’ skills and increase their confidence in cloud computing.

5. Build and innovate

Put the knowledge to the test and organise game days, hackathons, and digital innovator days so your teams can have a hands-on experience with cloud technology. Ask your teams to build a website, create an Application Programming Interface (API), or build something else tangible that fits into what your teams already do. I’ve always felt the best education comes in the form of experience. Give your teams a hands-on opportunity to do something meaningful to your business with cloud computing and see what happens. These hands-on experiences might become game-changing innovations, or they may simply provide some education that your teams harness for their next projects.

6. Celebrate and recognise

Investing in your employees’ staff’s knowledge and skills will benefit the entire organisation and its surrounding communities. By creating a culture of learning, you are investing in your employees and giving them the opportunity to build their skills and knowledge. Recognise and celebrate those who achieve mastery through industry certification, which in turn will enhance your culture and encourage others to invest their time in learning more about cloud computing and technology. It will also show that the company encourages a  learning culture and invests in its talent.

Modern cloud-native development is here

The above is a simplified version of what steps a company would want to take to build cloud fluency within the organisation. The planning, strategy, and execution of a cloud fluency program will pay dividends for your organisation, and encourage employees to invest in the company’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.

Maureen Lonergan is Director of Training and Certification for Amazon Web Services (AWS), where she leads a team of builders committed to training the next generation of cloud talent. Maureen helps AWS customers, partners, and employees to gain the skills and knowledge to unlock the power of the AWS Cloud in the age of digital transformation.

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