14:03 29 June 2020
Post by: WBJ

How to survive the 'new normal'? Upskill, upskill, upskill

Upskilling provides a future-proof plan of action for businesses and employees alike—delivering increased agility and a competitive edge.

How to survive the 'new normal'? Upskill, upskill, upskill
Source: Microsoft

Technology has been the driving force behind some of the biggest corporate and societal transformations over the past several decades—providing innovative and new approaches to many long-standing challenges. And, as COVID-19 rages on and a ‘new normal’ sets in, technology will once again become a clutch player as businesses rethink and revamp everything from operating models to workplace culture. But, in order to unlock the true potential of what technology can do, it requires both human ingenuity and new skills. For a truly re-imagined business, it’s mission critical that employees can utilize tools and technologies, such as cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), in order to become the true agents of change.

The business world has recognized the importance of upskilling and the benefits it provides, not only for the business itself but for employees as well. Upskilling ensures employee skill sets won't become obsolete and those that have training and development opportunities are also happier in their roles and have a brighter outlook on their future with a company.

A good example of this is Microsoft’s recent partnership with EPAM Systems, a leading global provider of digital platform engineering and software development services. Together, they have developed the largest Microsoft cloud skilling program of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. In the last year alone, more than 2,200 engineers and architects from 14 countries have participated and EPAM expects another 400+ new Azure certifications will be successfully completed by summer 2020. Certifications include: Azure Fundamentals, Azure Developers, Azure Administrator, DevOps Engineer, Solution Architect, Data Engineer, AI Engineer and Security.

As a result of this program, EPAM was able to apply their expertise in Azure to a partnership with The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), an organization that serves as the managing partner for two of the city's most comprehensive campaigns focused on improving the educational and economic outcomes of the city's youth.  Since 1999, the organization has been committed to helping young people who are disadvantaged because of their living conditions—providing an opportunity to complete their basic education and prepare for the challenges of the labor market. 

But, in order for PYN to be as efficient as possible, they have to take advantage of the abundance of technology available. And, when the time came to make some much-needed improvements, EPAM, was the perfect partner to help.

“As a non-profit, every dollar we spend has to be squeezed and maximized for the greatest impact and value. Our technology investments are no different. EPAM helped PYN overhaul our enterprise applications from an outdated Oracle stack built on ColdFusion to a modern suite leveraging .Net and Azure SQL services. They also helped empower our business users to make data driven decisions faster, by enhancing our PowerBI dashboards and reports, thereby making Business Intelligence an operational function within our organization,” said Michael Pompey, CIO of Philadelphia Youth Network. “By integrating these Microsoft tools into our Azure/O365 environment, PYN can meet the ever-changing demands of youth workforce, while maintaining our operations during the COVID-19 crisis.”  

Microsoft and EPAM Systems are committed to making their customers and partners more future proof, efficient, and competitive.  The success reached by Microsoft upskilling program gives evidence that such cooperation with customers across the region can ensure that employees at every level can unlock the skills they need to put both themselves and their companies on a path to digital success, especially in a post-COVID world. 

AI and skills in Central Europe

Microsoft recently undertook a global survey to investigate the skills needed to thrive as businesses increasingly adopt artificial intelligence. This survey revealed many actionable insights some of them being especially noteworthy. In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), companies experiencing the greatest value from AI are those that focus on developing the skills of their people as they shift deployments. 60% of employees at ‘AI-leading’ firms have been a part of skilling programs and 65% of those say their company is preparing them to be successful in the age of AI – compared to only about a third of people at companies slower to adopt AI. As a result, almost three quarters (73%) of senior executives from mature AI businesses say they are already seeing business value from AI deployments, compared to less than a half (49%) of companies that are at earlier stages of AI usage. It’s clear from these findings that there is tangible value in giving employees the right skills to be able to reimagine the way in which they use technology—AI or otherwise—in order to shape how businesses, operate and compete. Microsoft offers a number of free courses, like Microsoft Learn, with more than 80 hours of content that covers a variety of critical technology solutions. Learn more.

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