Nexity uses AWS Skills Guild to create ‘Cloud First Academy’
Editor’s note: This blog shares an example of how a large organization leveraged a comprehensive cloud skills training strategy to achieve its digital transformation goals while empowering its employees to be a part of their Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud journey.
Nexity is France’s leading integrated real estate group that employs nearly 8,500 people throughout the country, operating in all promotions and service businesses. In 2017, the company initiated its migration from its legacy information systems to the AWS Cloud, allowing them to permanently close two data centers in mid-2019.
Nexity’s Digital Solutions and Innovations Department had an ambitious goal to address the cultural shifts needed to train their employees and accelerate their cloud transformation. They turned to AWS Training and Certification, and specifically AWS Skills Guild, for help. AWS Skills Guild is a comprehensive skills enablement program designed to build cloud fluency across an organization and the team at AWS helps enable enterprises so they can run their own internal cloud training programs. Together, they created Nexity’s own Cloud First Academy with one clear goal: to develop truly innovative cloud competencies within Nexity.
Laurent Dirson, director of Business Solutions and Technologies at Nexity, explains, “Historically, we were able to organize our IT in silos, with the firewall expert, the network expert, etc. Today, we realize that our employees must be generalists and specialists at the same time to master solutions such as the cloud because they are multidisciplinary skills that cannot be outsourced.”
The Cloud First Academy project began with an assessment of all departments, both IT and non-IT teams. Nexity’s human resources department played an important role in this process. In collaboration with AWS, they completed the AWS Learning Needs Analysis to help identify employees’ current cloud skills and experience levels in order to direct the training efforts. The result was a set of training recommendations and courses developed by AWS around three key areas:
- Establish ‘cloud-first’ mindset in the organization: communicate a clear cloud strategy within Nexity, increasing enthusiasm and commitment throughout the organization, as well as externally.
- Create mechanisms: teach and share tools and resources to practice new cloud skills, enabling employees to build and scale AWS Well-Architected cloud solutions quickly and securely.
- Give opportunities to improve and grow: establish a peer-led culture of learning to develop cloud fluency throughout the organization.
Become a ‘cloud-first’ organization
Their first goal was to develop a base level of cloud fluency and skills amongst their teams and nurture innovation from anywhere. To guarantee a common level of expertise, Nexity challenged 80% of their 160 IT employees to earn an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. Also, for non-technical and business teams, Nexity selected 14 AWS Training courses, ranging from cloud fundamentals to cloud business-oriented training, to ensure they also learned the value of cloud.
Establishing a common cloud fluency across an organization is imperative. “It allows us to build business solutions together, whether we are lawyers or marketing professionals,” explains Dirson.
New mechanisms and approaches to solidify skills
Nexity’s employees who are new to the cloud are encouraged to take advantage of the foundational training available to them. This requires a learn-by-doing approach, which can be achieved thanks to the secure space sandboxes made available by AWS.
As Dirson explains, “This is an approach that really differs from traditional training. It allows employees to learn in a hands-on way by testing the products and services, which translates into real time savings.”
Cloud First Academy has also organized many employee-led skilling events to enhance interactive learning. Events such as AWS Game Days allowed teams to put themselves in real-life situations such as a cyber-attack, or the scaling of an e-commerce site, and solidify what they learned in class into tangible skills. To date, Cloud First Academy has held 48 sessions, which is equal to 96 days of training, for over 760 participants.
Encourage peer-led learnings to organically grow a culture of learning
Nexity strengthened the impact of the Cloud First Academy by creating a community of nine “champions”, high-potential members of the IT team who act as internal cloud ambassadors. The champions encourage the cascading of skills training within teams by organizing “lunch and learn” informal sharing sessions and communicating how-to’s and benefits of getting involved in Cloud First Academy to wider public audiences to attract talent.
Dirson believes that, “The IT of today is a field that requires increasingly specialized skills, even though today’s platforms simplify operations. Ongoing training and building proficiency is a key differentiator.”
Cloud First Academy’s approach proved to be successful in establishing the cloud-first mindset and increasing Nexity’s basic cloud fluency. Now, Nexity uses cloud as its main business solutions accelerator, and continues to use the Cloud First Academy to train their employees. Cloud First Academy is driving new participants to immerse themselves in cloud training opportunities and deepen their subject matter expertise.
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