As the world dives deep into the ocean of technology, the foremost change expected is the continued migration to the cloud. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting widespread shift to remote work made it more critical than ever for companies to think about investing in the cloud, organizations were embracing it. 

While this transformation requires a lot of hard work, your organization can ease the growing pains if your workforce is adequately skilled to take on the different job roles created by cloud adoption. Some organizations have made the mistake of taking this transformation too lightly by blindly jumping on the cloud bandwagon without any prior planning or skilling strategy. 

A Shift to Cloud Requires a Shift in Skills 

A Cloud Guru’s 2020 “State of Cloud Learning” report suggests that cloud expertise is growing in value for enterprises and the employees who work for them. Here are some valuable insights that point toward this trend: 

    • Over 90% of information technology (IT) leaders plan to expand their use of cloud services within the next three years. 
    • More than 70% of IT leaders say that cloud adoption has sped “up their time to value for new products and features. 
    • Almost all of the IT leaders surveyed said that their business would operate more effectively “with a uniform shared basis of cloud knowledge.” 

There is more to cloud adoption than subscribing to a cloud service. It entails identifying new roles and the skills required to perform those roles and filling those new positions, either through hiring or through training.   

Upskilling and Reskilling the Workforce 

The cloud skills drought continues to plague industries across the world, especially in the past year and a half since the outbreak of COVID-19 triggered mass cloud adoption. According to the 2020 Logicworks report “Challenges in Cloud Transformation,” 86% of IT leaders believed that the cloud skills shortage would slow down projects at their organization in 2020, and 34% said that high staff turnover “impedes their company’s cloud strategy.” 

To maximize the return on your investment in the cloud, it’s important to develop a comprehensive cloud training program to upskill and reskill your employees. There is no secret recipe for the best cloud training plan. The onus is on the organization to choose a mix of upskilling, reskilling, and cross-functional skilling that will work for its team: 

Upskilling for a Cloud Future 

Upskilling refers to training employees on new skills that will help them perform their current duties better. When migrating to the cloud requires employees to maintain their current position but take on some new responsibilities, they need upskilling. 

Reskilling to Make the Most of the Cloud 

When an organization embraces the cloud, a new set of new job roles comes into the picture to manage that cloud deployment. Instead of hiring new employees, you may want to opt to reskill existing employees for these new cloud-related roles. 

Cross-functional Skilling 

Cross-functional skilling refers to helping employees learn to handle processes in other functional areas or business departments. In addition to creating efficiencies, cross-functional skilling puts extra responsibility on employees’ shoulders, conveying a clear message that the organization trusts them. 

One Cloud Isn’t Enough: Preparing for a Multi-cloud Future 

While some organizations are still contemplating their move to the cloud, others follow a hybrid cloud strategy that involves more than one cloud partner. There are two reasons an organization might adopt a multi-cloud approach. Firstly, it keeps the company from being locked into a vendor and relying on one partner. Secondly, the dominance of two or three mega-vendors in the market has sparked the need to seek best-of-breed solutions from each of these vendors separately. 

Last year, Gartner predicted that by 2021, almost 75% of large or midsized organizations would have adopted a multi-cloud approach “and/or hybrid IT strategy. As a result, the need to train employees on more than one cloud platform is inevitable. If your organization is to be ready, it must invest in learning and development (L&D). 

Consider investing in formal employee training and certification on multiple cloud technologies; three of the most common are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. The largest is Amazon, which in December 2020 announced a plan to “help 29 million people globally grow their technical skills with free cloud computing skills training” by 2025. 

Training providers offer a variety of flexible options to learn new technical skills. Learners have multiple options in front of them, and virtual instructor-led training (VILT), eLearning, online events and webinars are all great methods for learning cloud skills. They are typically cost-effective and enable employees to learn at a pace and in their own setting. 

As remote work continues, so does the reliance on the cloud and the new focus on technical skills to understand it. A comprehensive skilling plan will help ensure that your organization can thrive in this volatile and unpredictable business landscape.