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“Anyone who isn’t at least considering cloud solutions is going to get left behind.”– Microsoft
At the end of last year I attended a seminar at Microsoft’s Thames Valley Park campus. It extolled the virtues of their new system that manages ’clouds‘ for service providers. The lecture room was mostly populated by ‘hosting’ companies that provide cloud based solutions on which their customers run their applications – in other words, companies who are in the business of ‘the cloud’. And yet Microsoft still felt it appropriate to discuss what is meant by ‘the cloud’ after they opened with the quote above.
Working with virtual solutions and cloud based training on an everyday basis, I agree with both of Microsoft’s points they made at the seminar:
- Cloud solutions are most certainly the way forward for many businesses and ignoring them could mean solutions fail to provide the most efficient business tools. It’s difficult to argue with the fact that the importance of the cloud based systems is growing in all business sectors with the private sector leading the way (have a look at study results on adoption of the cloud for training in the UK).
- There are lots of people who don’t fully understand the term ‘cloud’ and how it’s generally used within the industry. Many businesses have yet to invest in understanding what is meant by cloud computing or cloud based systems and how they may benefit from it (for those people and businesses I’d recommend Cloud Essentials course).
As someone who works with business to business training solutions, I fully appreciate how new cloud based technologies are affecting the ways in which people are able to learn. More organisations are turning their attention to new training methods, which often allow for more flexibility and knowledge retention than traditional learning methods.
This is especially important for businesses this year as London hosts the Olympics. The Games and the hassle around them are going to make travel around the city difficult and the costs of accommodation (such as hotel room prices) in various areas are already doubled for that period. By turning to less traditional training methods businesses are already showing they recognise the advantages of cloud based learning over traditional classroom training.
The cloud – the must have IT accessory
Before we go deeper into the ‘accessory’ part, let’s consider what the ‘cloud based solution’ is. Well, this isn’t as easy as it may sound as there appears to be so many different uses of the term ‘the cloud’, some of which I would classify as misleading! Microsoft were accurate in their description, but I will aim to provide a more general explanation here: the cloud based solution allows services to be provided to businesses and users that are independent of their location and that are able to utilise remote resources as demanded by the business requirements.
So why is the cloud being hailed as the latest ‘must have’ IT accessory?
Essentially, a true cloud based solution is one that is reactive to a customer’s business demands: it is scalable (it can dynamically grow), elastic (it can shrink too), location independent (or at least not entirely centralised) and has a cost that is based on the use of resources, rather than a fixed price.
How does the concept of the cloud work in the world of training?
Well, increasingly, businesses are requiring a more flexible approach to providing training, one that additionally offers cost savings if possible, and so cloud based training is already becoming the must have training accessory!
It provides learning to a dynamic workforce, when it is required, where it is required, with content that is 100% appropriate to an individual’s learning objectives. Think of it as ‘learning on demand’, or ‘just in time training’ – no more planning weeks or months ahead (or waiting weeks or months for training that is needed today). No more sitting through several days’ of instruction in order to gain knowledge and experience which totals just 40% of the ‘off the shelf’ course. In fact, one might consider why should learning be restricted to a specific schedule at all?
Cloud based training should be able to offer true learning on demand, recognising that learning can take various valuable forms:
- ‘Live’ instructor-led, with the ability to ask questions and pose problems, to make the training relevant to the requirements of the learner
- Self-paced, with the ability to skip over sessions that the learner is already familiar with, or that are not relevant to their learning objectives
- Hands-on labs, providing the same experience as within the classroom by providing remote systems that enable students to complete practical exercises as part of instructor-led sessions, also allowing them to practice after a session what they have learnt within it
In a similar way to a cloud based computer solution that offers computer resources as and when they are required, with a charging mechanism where a company only pays for the resources it uses, cloud based training should do the same.
I hope this post helped you understand what the advantages of training in the cloudare. And if you’re already embracing the virtual space but still think you would like to know more about it, then I strongly advise you to take on the Cloud essentials course I mentioned earlier and watch the recorded webinar on the cloud and training.
Below you can see an INFOGRAPHIC with a few facts and figures about the adoption of the cloud for training by different businesses in the UK.