Even as cloud computing services were witnessing an uptake in adoption over the past couple of years, the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has only rapidly accelerated the process. A recent Synergy Research states that global revenue from cloud services and infrastructure grew by $187 billion in the first half of 2020, up 20% from the same period in 2019.
However, as businesses adopt cloud, a new set of challenges are emerging, notably the need for skill development of the workforce.
Reskilling: An imperative in the cloud age
The path to the cloud is multifaceted. From a simple “life and shift” (rehosting) of workload through Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), to refactoring an essential business application to fully benefit from cloud capabilities, successful migration depends on the ability of business and IT functions to work in-sync to understand what is needed and what is realistically possible.
In addition, cloud adoption can result in existing solutions, software, processes, workloads becoming obsolete or redundant. As a result, those dealing with redundant software might find their skills being nullified in the rapidly transforming business operations ecosystem.
In fact, a recent study by Gartner stated that by 2022, half of enterprise IT organizations’ migration to the cloud may get delayed by more than two years due to inadequate cloud IaaS skills.
Hence, it is imperative for CIOs to lay down well-planned skill development plans for the workforce to meet changing job roles and requirements and address the radically changing technical and management concerns. A laggard approach to re-/up-skilling can widen the skill gap, and negatively impact business agility and growth in the long term.
Requisite cloud skills and the current scenario
The current cloud-experienced resources are in short supply. Cloud computing requires cloud-enabling capabilities, including virtualization, performance monitoring, service management, provisioning, and performance optimization or automation. However, the reality is that companies are hiring people from the infrastructure domain and training them on cloud to meet the growing demand for cloud experts.
For most organizations, investing in up-/re-skilling the existing workforce is found to be more effective and profitable as compared to hiring and training new employees. There are three major tangents of skills that are imperative to cloud computing:
- Technical skills: These include broad cloud skills such as cloud fundamentals, solutions architecture, developer, and speciality skills such as machine learning, network engineering, cloud data analysis, and serverless application development.
- Interpersonal skills: With the cloud environment being highly dynamic, the ability to work from anywhere and anytime, to be able to transform ideas into reality, and to be able to create a conducive work culture in a highly agile cloud structure requires strong and effective collaboration and communication skills.
- Business skills: While technical skills are important, having talent that can redefine the business vision and goals into development strategies is equally vital for an organization to succeed in cloud.
Best techniques for reskilling
There are numerous methodologies or techniques for reskilling the workforce in cloud. Where some organizations provide agile skills development programmes that are iterative, adaptive to changes, and provide effective outcomes go a long way in developing the cloud skills of the workforce; others believe in offering employees cloud specialty courses based on the cloud service journey the company takes and the provider it selects.
There are a some other routes that a business can take to get their people geared up with the requisite skills. Businesses are now exploring tie-ups or collaborations with either vendors or their partners. They are also open to looking at working third parties, provided these third parties are certified partners of vendors.
Another viable approach is paired programming 1where one non-skilled individual/team is paired with a skilled individual/team to promote learning and development of skillsets.
Benefits of reskilling for various stakeholders
Employees: The global cloud computing market is projected to increase to $684.55 billion by 2027, with an estimated CAGR at 17.6% between 2020 and 2027. Therefore, the area of cloud will become all-pervasive in the coming years, be it in the area of architecting solutions across cloud or hybrid platforms, application development of cloud native software, managing operations of large-scale enterprise applications, migrating applications from on premise to cloud environment, and so on.
It is imperative for employees to look at the larger scheme of things and prepare themselves for future job roles.
Organization: Tenured workforce is an asset compared to new talent because existing employees know how the business operates, its goals, and internal workings. Therefore, reskilling is a more efficient and cost-effective approach compared to hiring as most of the extant IT skills can be easily reused and it can help meet the immediate requirement for the cloud-centric IT workforce.
However, this programme needs to be aligned with multiple vectors. Each organization need to define which areas of the cloud are they operating on, for instance, whether it is operations or software development or network support or infrastructure needs, and so forth, and accordingly prepare learning modules for the existing workforce. It will also depend on how current work versus future work is organized and steadily employees can be migrated towards it.
Lastly, it is also dependent on career aspirations of individuals which need to be aligned with the objective before introducing the upskilling program to them.
The way forward
The transition to cloud is not merely about adopting a new technology. It involves a complete overhaul of the existing business structure and the way processes and people operate. A successful cloud migration can be defined by the evolution of the workforce, both in terms of their positive attitude towards these changes and their skillsets. Providing opportunities in reskilling can truly turn the existing talent in an organization into a true asset in its cloud journey.
Samit Banerjee is division president at Amdocs. The views in this articles are his own.