AWS Training and Certification Blog

Giving startups and small businesses the tools and resources to close skills gaps

When small companies have big ideas, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides the technical means so they can adopt new technology, innovate across industry, and redefine what’s possible to accomplish with limited resources. For startups and small and medium businesses (SMBs) to realize these visions and execute a successful cloud transformation, careful planning is required. For project execution, decision makers typically invest time and money into internal team enablement, third-party short-term outsourcing, or long-term relationships with strategic partners.

This blog shares how startup and SMB customers can take advantage of AWS programs to meet their unique digital transformation goals. By measuring baseline cloud proficiency, small teams can fill learning gaps through tailored learning programs and use AWS Partners to accelerate development. (Also check out this blog detailing additional resources for SMBs to skill up their teams.)

Measure baseline cloud proficiency of your workforce

In order to make strategic decisions about the support and resources they need to execute digital transformation initiatives, startups and SMBs will first want to understand their baseline of cloud proficiency within their existing workforce. The free AWS Learning Needs Analysis (LNA) assessment does just that, helping organizations of all sizes audit the AWS knowledge and skills their employees have today, where skills and competency gaps exist, and what is needed to accomplish the organization’s unique cloud goals and strategies.

“The LNA allowed us to quickly identify where we had to focus our [training] efforts and budget,” said Prashant Singh, vice president of Engineering at ShopBack. “AWS Training and Certification delivered an eight-week customized training program to our developers, DevOps, and SysOps teams. We saw immediate results! The training helped us make improvements to the ShopBack application’s search engine, resulting in improved customer experience and increased purchases.”

After completing an LNA, the output report will showcase key areas for improvement, particularly highlighting learning gaps in your team. These results are specific, measuring proficiency in a number of technical and administrative domains. For example, results may show that the organization’s internal technical team needs more training and learning engagement in security, data analytics, and machine learning. The LNA will recommend targeted trainings to fill the knowledge gaps. The LNA results will also indicate if the organization’s teams prefer in-person instructor-led trainings or self-paced learning options. From all of this, the AWS account team will build a custom plan that combines Training and Certification courses, AWS Partner engagements, and other AWS learning programs to satisfy the organization’s unique needs.

Read more on the value of creating an LNA and how it is helping AWS customers today.

Find the right partner to supplement thematic learning gaps

With an Amazon Partner Network (APN) partner, SMBs and startups can receive technical consulting or hands-on assistance to complete business initiatives, while simultaneously scaling internal teams with the self-paced learning offered through AWS Training and Certification. The APN is a global network of more than 100,000 AWS Partners that provide programs and expertise to help build and market customer offerings. AWS Partners are strategic experts and experienced builders that help address specific business needs for customers. Building long-term relationships with APN Partners provides consistency, depth of business knowledge, and learning experiences for an SMB’s teams.

After identifying the top three skill gaps from the LNA, the AWS Account Team can provide recommendations on partners to help target those gaps. Taking security as an example domain, there is a wide offering of products and solutions pre-qualified by the AWS Partner Competency Program to support areas including infrastructure security, policy management, identity management, security monitoring, vulnerability management, and data protection. After the engagement with an APN Partner, there will be a workload hand-off ensuring that the workloads can be operated by individuals within your team.

Leverage AWS Programs for targeted, use case focused learning

There are numerous AWS programs and events that any organization can take advantage of to further deep dive into the learning gaps identified by the LNA. These specific AWS programs can help up-skill an organization’s internal teams over time with key AWS best practices and technologies in hands-on learning modalities that propel proof-of-concepts to completion.

AWS Solution Focused Immersion Days are a series of events designed to educate participants about broader tech domains and relevant AWS services through presentation content and labs. These sessions help learners develop the skills needed to build, deploy, and operate infrastructure and applications in the cloud. Smaller tech teams can sign up for a public immersion day that relates to one of the skill gaps identified from LNA. For example, if security is a significant skills gap, the Introduction to AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) immersion day allows the team to learn base level AWS security best practices.

AWS GameDay is a collaborative learning exercise that tests skills in implementing AWS solutions to solve real-world problems in a gamified, risk-free environment. GameDays offer a fun incentive to learn different topics in a collaborative and hands-on format. An organization may choose a Game Day that addresses a specific learning gap from the LNA report, even if APN Partners and outsourced developers are working on similar projects behind the scenes, helping the organization’s internal team upskill over time. Building on the security skills gap example, there is a security Game Day that can help the team think critically about how to secure virtual private clouds (VPCs) and leverage Security Groups.

AWS Training and Certification offers 600+ free digital courses on AWS Skill Builder, as well as training events both online and in person, that help the builders of today and tomorrow leverage the power of the AWS Cloud. As internal teams build foundational cloud knowledge in general architecture or domain-specific use cases, joining AWS experts for public training events can also help meet learning goals over time.

AWS Events and Webinars give organizations the opportunity to connect with other AWS customers and learn from industry leaders. These events are designed to showcase different AWS products, services, and solutions. Beyond general information, these events are geared to help customers develop the skills to design, deploy, and operate infrastructure and applications. Event content is delivered by subject matter experts from AWS, APN partners, and AWS customers who share how they have successfully built solutions in the cloud.

The value of upskilling existing teams

When a startup or SMB is investing in cloud, providing technical teams with the necessary knowledge and skills can drive increased efficiency, productivity, and competitive edge for the long term. Identifying skills gaps and strategically leveraging APN Partners and AWS learning programs to close them can accelerate an organization’s business strategy and create business resilience. The LNA and a targeted training plan enable business and technical decision makers to maximize the value of their cloud investments. Get started with an LNA today.

Interested in learning more about how SMBs can gain insights into their customers’ preferences, behavior patterns, and pain points using customer data analytics? Check out this blog.