How does continuous employee learning maximise ROI amid rapid technology change?

By Impactful | 03 Aug, 2023
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Continuous learning delivers the best return on your technology investments

The rate of technology change today is rapid. Ensuring a continuous learning path for your employees is the best way to obtain maximum ROI.

Virtualisation has long been recognised as a way for developers to better manage huge applications, along with the underlying infrastructure. However, for the developer creating cross-platform applications, one of the critical challenges lies in ensuring that their application can run in environments that are configured differently.

In the modern digital world, developers seldom get to build an application that is only deployed on one operating system. Instead, they have to worry about how the operating system, file system hierarchy and user interface might vary from one deployment to another.

This is where containers come in, as these offer the same attributes as virtual machines, while significantly reducing the time required to create, configure, ship and run the application. Containers, as the name suggests, are used to package and run an application and its various dependencies, in an isolated, predictable and repeatable way.

According to Amelia DeJager, Specialist Trainer at Impactful, containers essentially guarantee the same functionality, regardless of whether you are running Linux, Windows, operating in the cloud or even in a multi-cloud environment.

“Basically, a container is like a box that packages everything your application needs within, and you can simply shift the box from platform to platform. The app will function effectively, wherever it is,” she explains.

“Containers and virtualisation are definitely the wave of the future, particularly now that the previous security issues have been corrected. Today, containers have Hypervisor-level security, and are hardened, isolated and protected.”

She adds that not only is the process simplified significantly, but containers are also able to scale instantly as required. This alone offers enormous value to both the development team and the organisation as a whole.

According to Amelia, the benefits offered by containers are such that it would serve most organisations well to ensure that their developers are capable of leveraging containers more effectively.

“In much the same way as most office staff use various solutions like, for example, Microsoft Outlook in their everyday work, but they certainly never utilise anywhere near the full functionality, the same could be said of most developers who use containers,” she explains.

Continuous learning

“This is why training is so crucial. It is imperative that organisations place these employees on a training journey to get them where they need to be, by enabling them to leverage the full functionality of containers for the benefit of the broader business.”

Pieter Nel, Executive Head: IT talent at Impactful adds that once companies recognise the need to train their developers in using this environment, Impactful can help them to undertake the journey. The business, he says, offers a complete training environment with different learning elements that will enable them to maximise the capability of the solution.

“It is worth noting that the speed of technology change today is such that enterprises should insist that employees embark on a continuous learning process. Remember that a few years ago a course update would reset your skills knowledge for years to come. Today, only constant learning will allow you to stay up to date in the technology space.”

“This is why it is vital to partner with a learning organisation that can demonstrate the value and the benefits of the solution you are learning and keep employees’ skills honed regularly.”

It is all about relevance in the world, he continues, and the easiest way to remain relevant is to partner with an entity that can deliver a continuous learning experience. He adds that Impactful differentiates itself by working with customers to develop and create the specific learnings required to enable them to succeed on their chosen strategic path.

“Therefore, we will sit down with the client to analyse their specific requirements, and then use online- and facilitator-based training to help employees build relevant skills over time and, more crucially, also maintain them, in order to avoid skills irrelevance in the future.”

“Our job is to ensure that our facilitators are also learning constantly and building up a huge amount of knowledge so that they can share this with the learners. Ultimately, our training saves developers time because we show them what is possible, and this will, in turn, save the company money. Then, from a personal perspective, the ongoing training helps the developers to elevate their own reputation within the organisation.”

Facilitators are also there to mentor learners, because not everyone learns at the same pace. Thus, coaching and mentoring are key to helping employees to learn.

Changing Methodologies

Amelia de Jager notes that, from an organisational point of view, having developers properly skilled in leveraging containers will allow streamlining of the production line, ensuring that products are not only more capable, but also reach the end user more rapidly.

Development methodologies have changed significantly in the past few years. Originally developers wrote code, tested it and then sent it back for changes. More recently, the Agile methodology has been about fixing on the go and adapting and changing on the fly. However, this can lead to catastrophic problems at times, because relationships between the various moving parts are never properly fixed,” she explains.

“With containers, on the other hand, one can roll out updates, and if there is a problem, you can simply go back to the previous working instance. This means fewer errors, fewer revisions and more rapid and effective updates for apps. Everything we do as an organisation is geared towards helping our customers to be more successful.”

Pieter Nel suggests that there is a large percentage of businesses in South Africa that claim to lack the technical skills needed to innovate fast enough to attract new customers.

“And this is the real end result of containerisation: it is not for the developers - although it certainly simplifies their lives - but rather, to get a product out that is better, released faster and works more effectively.”

“This means that everything we do from a learning perspective, while technically upskilling their people, is ultimately about enabling our clients to provide a better service to their customers, while assisting them to also improve their bottom line,” Nel says.

Much more than just a course

It is vital that employees are made aware of the advantages of specific technologies, he explains, and especially that they are properly informed as to these solutions’ full capabilities. This is how you get them excited to learn.

“So, a crucial part of the roadmap for us is to actually make the customer aware of what is possible, as well as conversely, what challenges they will face if they don’t embrace such possibilities.”

“Perhaps the most important thing for enterprises to remember is that technologies cost a lot of money. If your people are only leveraging 30-40% of the capability, you are wasting the bigger part of your investment. Therefore, training should never be viewed as a grudge purchase, but rather as a means to obtain optimum value from your technology investments.”

De Jager adds that Impactful is a one-stop-shop, so clients can approach the business with their specific challenge, which will be properly analysed to determine what technologies are required to get them to the end of their journey.

“We help you to determine what your business problems are and then assist with the technologies and processes you need to get you there. And of course, we will then train your people to ensure they are able to leverage those technologies to the best of their ability,” she states.

Nel concludes by pointing out that Impactful offers a training journey, rather than just a course.

“For us, it is all about developing people and keeping them upskilled - not just on containers, but on a range of complementary skills too, such as those related to security, problem-solving, and design. It is delivering this holistic approach to skills development that sets us apart.”

“In a world that is digitally transforming rapidly, with new technologies and solutions coming to the fore all the time, Impactful’s services have never been more needed. We help your employees to attain their true potential while you are able to maximise the return on investment on the technology you have purchased – all while improving your business and your service to your customer,” he concludes.

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