How building Cloud Academy helped us understand the challenges of transforming large teams, and how data and planning can help with your cloud transformation.
When we started Cloud Academy a few years ago, our founding team knew that cloud was going to be a revolution for the IT industry. From early on, we could see how companies were transforming their infrastructure in the cloud, and it was absolutely clear they couldn’t do it without a major skill and workforce transformation.
In this article, I will introduce a new enterprise feature designed to transform large IT teams at scale, and share how we are transforming our solution from an enterprise cloud training platform to an Operating System for Cloud Skills.
Buying new technology is easy but changing people is (really) hard
Back to our early days… While we were absolutely right about our market and the enterprise skills gap, other pieces of the picture were less clear. If I think about how organizations use++the cloud today, the changes required at the workforce level to adopt the cloud at scale were more difficult than we anticipated.
We clearly underestimated the difficulty of asking large teams to learn new capabilities such as Agile, DevOps, AWS, Azure, Containers. In the cloud, technologies are evolving so rapidly that, once your teams are aligned on your new AWS/Azure environment, there are 10 new features and services that they will need to learn. Only when we started talking to Directors and VPs in large IT departments did we understand what organizations were up against when faced with the challenge of transforming teams of thousands of people.
We summarized some of what we learned in this white paper on cloud migration.
The role of data and planning in a cultural transformation process
All CIOs, CTOs, and CEOs believe that cloud and DevOps will help their organizations move faster and build more technology. They know that their business has to get there to survive over the next 5-10 years. Like everyone else, they are constantly competing to acquire the capabilities their organization needs to move the business forward. However, acquiring skills won’t be enough. To stay ahead, existing teams—and a solid strategy to retain and reskill them—must be part of the equation.
It isn’t easy. Transforming teams and evolving skills in large organizations is more cultural than technical, and it starts with a clear knowledge alignment in the organization. Doing so for technologies that move as quickly as cloud, DevOps, and the entire modern IT ecosystem requires solid preparation and constant progress monitoring to know where your organization stands in building the skills you need.
Most of our customers know where they want their cloud skills and people to be in three years. Actually, they know what they would love to build to compete, especially given how quickly some industries are evolving. But how many of these companies know exactly how to get there?
Not many. That’s why the most successful transformations have two elements in common: great planning and lots of data. Planning means having a structured roadmap, usually based on a long-term vision, and data.
Skill profiles, the first component of your operating system for cloud skills
At Cloud Academy, we are building the enterprise platform to constantly monitor, develop, and transform your organization’s technology skills, at scale. Think of it as an operating system that provides control and enables specific actions to prepare your company to always perform at its best. Over the past 12 months, we’ve been working on a new technology, a core building block of our vision of a cloud OS, that is now available in our platform: Cloud Skill Profiles.
The road to Skill Profiles started with this vision: imagine a CIO who can constantly visualize how his 5,000+ member IT organization is performing, the skills of every team and individual, and how all of that changed since the company started its cloud transformation journey. Even more importantly, imagine knowing how your teams are performing compared to the rest of the industry? We wanted to help companies visualize how skills are being built and progressing in a way that is meaningful enough to support decision making and drive results.
To start, we asked ourselves, “How can we show the cloud skills an organization has today?” And then, “How do you align thousands of people, all with a different initial skillset?” A modern IT team may have 30+ different roles. “How can we help organizations prepare teams with the skills required for specific roles?” Lots of questions, I know.
We went back to our Skill Assessment technology and realized that we could have answered most of those questions by providing our customers with the right data at the right time. Our content library already has thousands of questions, quiz sessions, and exams. Our users are already assessing their skills every month with hundreds of thousands of questions answered. We had to use that data in a meaningful way for our customers.
Building a Knowledge Graph (a proprietary technology built by our team) gave us the ability to put all of our data and information together. Imagine a big map of nodes and connections that describes how cloud skills are connected to one another. Vendors, services, domains. Everything. What kind of skills go into building a continuous delivery solution? This approach gave us a starting point to build a bigger solution for our customers.
Connecting the dots with Skill Profiles
While we complete our beta period, Skill Profiles are already helping our customers get a better understanding of their teams. We are integrating it in the Cloud Academy platform following two main goals:
- Skill Profiles allow our customers to onboard teams with a clear understanding of their current skill gaps. Once they have that data, our Customer Success team partners with customers to build custom Training Plans for their organization. Part of our current focus is connecting skills and onboarding to your company’s job roles.
- Let leadership at each level in the organization follow their organization’s skills evolution. Using Skill Profiles, you can visualize where your organization’s skills stand today and how they have evolved over the last 24 months, or quickly compare how your Development and Security teams have evolved on their DevOps knowledge.
In the next two quarters, we will continue iterating on our Cloud Skill Profiles technology and we will be integrating it across our platform, providing the features and insights previewed here. We’ll also transform those insights into precise actions that our customers will be able take to accelerate cloud transformation, onboarding, and any of their training initiatives.
Skill Profiles are integrated with our enterprise suite where some customers are already using it and other products currently in beta to create custom skills and custom content (think about the ability to create and measure results for your own internal certification) through our Content Engine solution.
If you have questions or comments, I am happy to start a conversation, I am on Twitter at @stefanobellasio
Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder Cloud Academy Inc.