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The key to cloud integration: Upskilling

Aug. 2, 2021

Half of industrial executives say measuring cloud value is the biggest barrier to achieving that investment.

PwC's Bobby Bono

Manufacturers were well on their way in their digital-transformation journeys, but the pandemic further accelerated the integration of cloud technologies. As leaders tackle post-pandemic digital expectations, cloud integration remains top of mind in the industrial sector. Executives know their organizations need the cloud, but some struggle to understand the return on investment. Half of industrial executives say measuring cloud value is the biggest barrier to achieving that investment.

The key to reaping the benefits of cloud technology is focusing on the long haul. While the benefits of the cloud may initially be difficult to track, these technologies are key to building the factory of the future. Industrial executives are diving into the new digital environment and leaders must strategize on the tools and skills needed to effectively utilize cloud technologies.

Not only does a company’s commitment to cloud technology ensure future growth, but upskilling employees builds trust within the workforce and provides workers with the new skillsets they need for continued success.

Upskilling for the long haul

With 52% of executives citing lack of tech talent as a barrier to realizing cloud value and 47% worrying about their ability to upskill people in line with what cloud demands, the manufacturing sector needs to overhaul its upskilling plans to prepare for the long haul. As companies work to ease the complexity of cloud implementation, it is essential to focus on strategic digital-skills development. A comprehensive cloud-training program can help maximize the return on investment.

Integration to cloud infrastructure also requires a shift in workforce skills. However, across industries there is a growing demand for tech talent, making the recruiting process more difficult. Instead of diving into a sea of new hires, consider reskilling your current employees. In fact, many employees are seeking these opportunities. Thirty-three percent of employees value non-traditional benefits like above average training opportunities, and 18% consider digital skills critical to their future career path.

There is no-one-size-fits-all upskilling model, so it is essential to remain flexible during this volatile time.

Upgrading your upskilling strategy

While only 36% of CIOs say they have the cloud-related skills and expertise needed in-house, 57% have upskilling programs in place to develop these skills. Upskilling plans must address both tech skills, new ways of working and include creating new learning avenues. Executives should provide employees with the time to engage in upskilling and opportunities to exercise new cloud-related skills.

Companies can start with cloud training that works with a cloud vendor’s certification program. Executives should look to new and creative ways to promote upskilling and create an overall culture of learning. This can be done through mentorship opportunities for junior team members with strong cloud skills to work alongside less digitally experienced employees or providing a variety of incentives to learn new skills. At the executive level, upskilling programs can include discussions with partners and cloud-service providers. These apprenticeship-type models are essential to promote learning and enhance workplace culture.

When implemented effectively, cloud technology delivers results by attracting and retaining talent and delivering a better overall work experience.

Addressing the risks upfront

Since the transition to remote work, cybersecurity has been top of mind for industrial executives. Most CIOs in the industrial products sector are prioritizing cloud capabilities around cybersecurity.

Third-party cloud services can increase vulnerabilities and erode trust with customers, employees and other stakeholders. However, implementing thoughtful cloud-based cybersecurity can strengthen a company’s defenses and help accelerate cloud transformations. These risks can be remedied through agile implementation. Risk issues need to be assessed early to optimize cloud efforts and lay the foundation to scale.

Preparing for the future

As industrial executives dive into the factory of the future, they must create thoughtful cloud-implementation programs. To withstand future disruption, leaders must consider the risks at hand and how to prepare employees to effectively utilize the technology.

Cloud technology is not simply a destination for companies, but an integral tool driving the future of industry.

Bobby Bono is the industrial manufacturing leader with PwC