In March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic shutdown brought an exponential explosion in new technological innovations and cultural change all in an effort to meet the demand of the mobile workforce. Today, we see a technological revolution driven by cloud and digital transformation. It should come as no surprise that this century will be known as the golden era of technological innovation and transformation. The pandemic certainly broke all norms in the workplace from a physical space to a digital virtual state.
From a business perspective post-COVID, we have come out stronger and fully adopted these technologies.
Between the pandemic and recent wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, we have seen people migrating from cities to suburbs and crossing borders, creating a transient workforce that will have to adjust to the culture, language, and environment of their home countries.
Even our most basic of things such as buying groceries has been shifted by e-commerce. We now order online, and our eating habits moved from visiting restaurants to physical doorstep delivery. We are, at this point, leaning harder on mobile apps, credit cards, and mobile money to trade.
Working patterns have been flipped from 9 to 5, to integrating our work and our life, fitting work around family, and traveling less thanks to virtual meetings. The travel and hospitality industries have taken a hit and are slowly, gradually, coming back to life.
In many African countries, the uptake of virtual training was very limited compared to instructor-led in-class training. That has all changed and now, people are adopting virtual and hybrid training.
Cloud, Cybersecurity, and digital transformation
With that in mind, there seems to be an upsurge in IT certifications on the cloud, cybersecurity, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) systems, mobile applications, etc., as businesses are looking at moving to the hybrid cloud with their main concern being how to address the security issues. There is a need for certified training and capacity building to address the challenges of cloud and security implementation.
Adopting new technologies in cloud and security has created a strain on businesses. In the era of Zero Trust Networks Access (ZTNA), we are seeing challenges when it comes to moving from on-prem to hybrid or full cloud. In the rush to move to the cloud, many businesses are looking at internally certified resources or consultants to assist them to lessen mistakes during implementation. Mistakes do happen meaning companies cannot afford to cut corners as cyber-attack risks are high.
The demands of a mobile workforce that are working remotely have created a demand for cloud and security certified training to address the IT skills gaps accompanying changing technologies. Companies are in need of specialised staff with multi-vendor technologies from security, cloud, DevOps, virtualisation, API interface, agility all the way to data science and unified threat management (UTM). Transitioning from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic upskilling of the workforce must happen in the shortest time possible. And it needs to be in line with the company’s vision and mission over the realignment of business processes.
Cloud computing, be it public, private cloud, or hybrid, is displacing investment from on-premises at a faster rate than previously imagined due to the availability of reliable cost-effective high-speed internet coupled with a subscription pay-as-you-go model while moving away from a Capex to an Opex model. Cybersecurity reinforces business profitability and continuity.
A skilled and certified workforce is of paramount importance. The importance of digital transformation is now being discussed at the board level. Senior executives reporting to the board need to talk about how business can move to the next generation, ahead of the competition, and move from legacy processes to automated integrated solutions using Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and APIs. Mobile applications in banking, health, and e-commerce have, after all, revolutionised the way we do business.
Polls carried out post-pandemic are showing trends leading back to instructor-led training which has major benefits such as the interaction between the tutor and students. It is critical for staff to be trained in multiple technologies. This is a win/win solution for the staff’s career and company goals. Besides, staff who have multiple certifications from different vendors motivate employees bringing about retention, and career growth and turning them into an asset to the organisation.
Learning Outcomes – Virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
Learning outcomes can be improved when there is an instructor to guide students on a structured learning methodology with clear objectives and outcomes. After the completion of the course, they further provide a certified exam to test competency and understanding. Most vendors provide additional access to virtual labs which helps students to ‘play’ with the lab scenarios without affecting real work. This helps build confidence during real implementation.
Organisations in a rush to adopt technology changes will see skill gaps in adopting new technologies. Companies trying to do self-paced learning also face the danger of creating gaps in cybersecurity. They should first look at upskilling internal resources which bring with it the benefit of loyalty and reduced headcount. Cybercriminals are getting smarter and more sophisticated in their attacks as part of a globally organised crime syndicate. Businesses must seek a deeper understanding of technology to stay ahead. This is why certified staff trained across multiple technologies from multiple vendors in SecOps and DevOps stay ahead of the game. Companies need to invest in certification of the staff for their own benefit and that of the staff.
Aunally Maloo is the CEO, Mart Networks Group.