AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Training the Entire Enterprise to Harness the Cloud’s Full Value

The cloud changes not just how enterprises deliver IT capabilities, but how they compete, how they advance their top lines, how they foster innovation, and how they organize themselves for success. It stands to reason, then, that training for the cloud should extend not just to technical employees, but to the entire organization as well. This conclusion is supported by a new study from IDC, “Train to Accelerate Your Cloud Strategy” (October 2017).

Indeed, the IDC study confirms that enterprises that “comprehensively” train their employees are materially better equipped to realize value from the cloud. And “comprehensively” means that they offer at least 8 hours of training for each of four topics (cloud technologies or platforms; methodologies or processes; organizational objectives; and potential use of cloud) to a wide range of stakeholders, both technical and non-technical.

Specifically, IDC reports that “comprehensively” trained organizations are 80% faster to adopt the cloud and 1.9 times as likely to move from limited deployments to deeper adoption. These organizations are also 3.8 times more likely to meet cloud ROI requirements and 4.4 times more likely to overcome operational/performance concerns.

You might legitimately wonder why the speed with which companies can migrate, and how quickly they’re able to overcome concerns, are benefits. The answer, I think, is that because the cloud offers compelling value, the sooner that value is realized the better. This applies to costs, of course, where the time value of money guarantees that savings today are better than savings tomorrow. But it also applies to innovation and competitive positioning, where a revenue increase today is better than a revenue increase tomorrow, and the ability to quickly adjust to an industry under disruption can mean the very survival of the enterprise.

The IDC study reinforces this, by citing a number of case studies with cloud customers.

GE Digital, for example, realized that the need for training went well beyond technical employees. “We trained as many people as possible on cloud basics because the benefits of understanding cloud extend beyond the IT organization,” says Vincent Perfetti, the former VP of Product Strategy and Customer Engagement at GE Digital, who is now with AWS.

Peter Loeffler, Head of Innovation and Industry Affairs at Siemens, adds: “Cloud training shows IT professionals, managers, and executives a new paradigm. Everyone needs to understand what cloud services (and tools) exist.”

And Moritz Onken, Head of Healthcare Insights Data Engine at Merck KGaA,suggests that companies “Train C-level IT leaders and their direct reports” because “without buy-in from upper management, there will be no trust in the solutions (and no money to try them).”

Making the most of the cloud requires new skills and new categories of knowledge. Of course, skilled technical professionals are good at learning — they do it constantly to keep up with their fields. And they can often do it on their own. But since the cloud is all about speed, accelerating the learning process for technical employees is as much of an advantage as any other increase in agility; in fact, when all is said and done, it might end up providing an even larger benefit.

For other stakeholders in the organization, all the way up through the CEO, the changes brought about by the cloud are, perhaps, less obvious but deeper. The agility of the cloud gives them superpowers, so to speak, but they must learn how to use them. Training other parts of the organization adds leverage to the new skills of the technical organization, amplifying and hastening the changes that the technologists can bring about.

AWS offers a host of cloud training programs designed to enrich organizations across a broad spectrum of people and industries. For additional insights on training, I strongly recommend these two posts by Stephen Orban, the Global Head of Enterprise Strategy at AWS.

The cloud is only a game-changer to the extent that we learn how to use it to change the game.

Read the full IDC study.

A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility
The Art of Business Value

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz is an Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and the author of The Art of Business Value and A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility. Before joining AWS he was the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Service (part of the Department of Homeland Security), CIO of Intrax, and CEO of Auctiva. He has an MBA from Wharton, a BS in Computer Science from Yale, and an MA in Philosophy from Yale.