Notes from the C3 Global Cloud Skills Tour 2022
The virtual cloud skills tour 2022 offered by the Leading Learning Partners Association has just concluded. There was great anticipation to hear from the keynote speaker Peter Hinsen, world-renowned serial entrepreneur, acclaimed author, and consultant to companies and organizations worldwide. He gave the audience his unique perspective on cloud readiness in the never normal.
The virtual event was broadcasted from Sofia, Bulgaria and Amsterdam, Netherlands co-hosted by Cristina Ratiu, CEO of Bittnet in Romania and Aakash Munjal, General Manager of ThinkSmart in Bahrain.
Some salient points from Peter Hinsen’s keynote
We are going to see more change and more and more technological seismic shocks. But, we are also in the middle of a biological, ecological, social, labor, and geopolitical shock, experiencing constant change, going from one crisis to the next. But we shouldn’t be afraid of that: every change is an opportunity.
Nicolas Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab, used to say there are bits companies and atoms companies. Bits companies deal with information every single day. Banks are a good example – a bank is basically a really big database. Atoms companies deal with physical stuff; for example, logistics companies – they haul atoms from A to B. Negroponte predicted 25 years ago that every single atoms company will eventually become a bits company and eventually everything will be digital.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hinsen wrote the book The New Normal. When asked what the new normal is, Hinsen says there is no new normal; everything has become normal, nothing is new anymore. From multichannel, big data, API, and platform to the cloud, all have become normal.
We haven’t seen the end of this technological cycle. There is no new normal; there is the new normals, plural. We are going to see a constant shift in new technologies.
Blue pill, red pill moment
As we are approaching the end of the pandemic, we are facing a classic blue pill, red pill moment: some people are excited about the new normal and the next new normal, but some really miss the old normal and hope to go back to where we were. Hinsen says he doesn’t think the old normal still exists.
In fact, change is happening faster and faster. There used to be these S-curves. Actually that’s how the economy develops: something is strange, then it starts to grow and then it flips over and becomes absolutely normal. This has happened throughout history, but what’s changed is that it is now happening faster. S-curves used to take 20 – 30 years to materialize. Now innovation cycles are going faster and faster and when it becomes uncomfortably fast, we talk about disruption.
Post-pandemic, we are going to see more seismic shocks. In the next ten years, we are going to see a combination of technologies.
We will increasingly live in a world that is super fluid, non-linear, hyper-connected, and ultra-speed, all happening at the same time.
What is that going to mean for you, as a company, a team, or an individual. Companies will have to broaden their skills spectrum; they need to hire people with a flux mindset, capable of looking left and right. Keep in mind that the shelf life of those skills are getting shorter and shorter, which means we have to increase our reskilling velocity in companies. In fact, this new environment is going to require the ultimate in flexibility and adaptability.
Hinsen’s personal philosophy on how to prepare for the future
To prepare for the future, you must have an eye on the day after tomorrow. Most people think about today 93% of the time, tomorrow 7% of the time and the day after tomorrow 0% of the time. Today is important, tomorrow is more important, but the day after tomorrow is even more important if you want to reinvent yourself for the never normal.
We are going to see rollercoaster rides of change – gradual and sudden changes. We will see more customer behavior disruption, more market dynamics disruption, more technology disruption and more operating model disruptions.
How to handle this turbulence?
Hinsen quotes Peter Drucker, who said: the greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it’s to act with yesterday’s logic. Leaders must think about that: how often do you use yesterday’s logic to make sense of today’s turbulence? Most of the time, this approach does not work.
The phoenix and the unicorn
Hinsen’s book, The Phoenix and the Unicorn, is about this and describes how traditional companies can reinvent themselves through what he calls the phoenix phenomenon. Walmart is an example –this company, the biggest retailer in the US, is completely transforming itself using technology and innovation. Hinsen predicts that we will see a lot more phoenixes.
We are going from the new normal to the never normal; we need to figure out how to ride these rollercoaster patterns, how to be robust and resilient. In this regard, company leaders need to take three things into consideration: strategy for the new world, the structure needed, and culture.
If you think about continual reinvention, it is not a technology thing; it’s a people thing, especially a skills thing. He puts the never normal in three brackets: skillset, mindset, and heartset. Organizations must beef up their skillset and be places where people are passionately curious about the day after tomorrow, endlessly open-minded to think about the never normal, forcefully resilient, and vigorously creative.
Hinsen left the audience with four never normal questions for organizations:
- Are you bold enough?
- What are you doing to shrink the time between ideation and execution?
- In terms of data, how are you going from collecting the dots to connecting the dots?
- How are you boosting your reskilling velocity?
Fireside Chat – Microsoft Cloud Vision 2030
Neil van Zyl, Azure Business Group Microsoft Netherlands and Natasha Vanputten-Gorkova, Azure Business Group lead, Multi Country Cluster, CEE.
Participants are seeing a stronger move to data and AI; closer collaboration between business people and IT people in companies; diversity in teams, and growth in terms of skills. Companies are beginning to understand the value of their data, and hybrid work is here to stay. Business leaders must figure out how to make hybrid workers part of business as usual. Cyber threats are growing enormously, making a cybersecurity strategy a must for every company.
Data literacy is fundamental for everybody and LLPA members are starting to teach about data at schools.
Cloud vision 2030
This vision will require massive infrastructure with better service and shorter latency times. In this regard, Microsoft is building many data centers all over the world; these developments are creating many jobs across countries.
An important dimension of cloud readiness is modernizing infrastructure and overcoming factors that are limiting cloud adoption. Everyone must be included. In this regard, Microsoft provides a completely free tool for cloud adoption for companies.
The biggest question about the cloud is data security. Cyberattacks cost companies $6 trillion each year. Not only large enterprises, but SMEs are also targeted, with 60% not being able to continue operating afterward; hybrid practices endanger data security.
AI and IoT
AI is more infused in everyday technology use than we realize – eventually, everything that can be connected will be connected. Everything will have learning and interactive capabilities – customers will come to expect it.
IoT makes a digital twin of the world possible where we can test everything and be more preventative. Some companies are installing an office for responsible AI and Microsoft has also established a responsible AI framework.
Companies must understand that workers don’t have to be technical experts in AI technologies, data science, or software development – it’s important to know what is possible with the technology, then half the battle is won.
The days of going to university and studying for a degree and then you’re set for life are something of the past. Technologies are going obsolete too fast, and people have to keep up with constant changes and new technologies. It’s impossible to know it all; it’s more a question of learn it all. The learning process will be constant but you have to add creativity. Knowing the tech is not good enough; you must know what to do with it.
Learning Vision 2030
– Mohanna Asarmandi, chief learning officer Germany Microsoft
– Stephanie Straub, training program manager, Austria Western Europe public sector
– Pleun Nuhoff, training program manager Norway
Companies need a culture of learning. Business leaders need to define a strategy for the cloud and then think how their workforce can live up to this strategy. However, a learning culture is not built overnight. Companies have to keep working at it and make sure they take every single person in the organization with them. Microsoft has implemented this strategy by introducing organizational learning days, with every employee getting one working day a month to spend on learning.
Talent gap: organizations can address the lack of talent by helping their own workers to be talented workers. The talent shortage is seriously impacting every organization, market, and industry. If you can’t find talent outside, find a way to create it inside the company by upskilling your workers.
Diversity and inclusivity are imperative, and start from the top: if your leaders are not diverse, then you are not truly diverse. Inclusivity is not just a buzzword. Company leaders must consider how to ensure that everyone feels welcome in their company and has opportunities to grow and fail.
Companies that fared well during the pandemic kept investing in training and upskilling their workers. Workers realize that their company can see what they can do for the company now and in the future; they realize the company is invested in them, so they stay.
We need a growth mindset – from “know it all” to “learn it all”, but it doesn’t mean you have to learn it all It means you are invested in lifelong learning. Learning can’t just happen at one level in an organization; it needs to happen in all levels throughout the workplace, including the leadership.
The Future of Corporate Learning
Panel discussion, participants:
– Marika Kotola, Executive Advisor – Sovelto Oyj – Finland
– Patrick Kersten, Program Director and Chairman of the Board – Computrain and The LLPA – The Netherlands
– Wilfried Paroubek, Global Partner Executive – Microsoft Learning
– Jan Dvořák, Chief Operation Officer – Gopas – Czech Republic
– Svetoslav Spasov, Managing Director – KPMG IT Service – Bulgaria
Key points from the discussion
All participants emphasized that digital transformation is about people as much as it is about technology.
Certifications are an excellent step for life-long learning, allowing companies to measure the success of their training efforts.
Two trends have been observed: (1) Customers don’t want to buy training or courses in a transactional manner. Now, the LLPA guides people in their career – they do training according to where they are in their journey; (2) Hybrid learning models were accelerated by the pandemic and demand for hybrid learning opportunities continues.
Why business leaders should partner with an accredited training organization:
- To better shape strategy and achieve better value for money.
- Building a trust relationship over the years, with learning partners knowing know your business needs and business goals to better advise you.
- Training organizations can advise companies so they can avoid mistakes along the way.
- Training organizations can translate company goals into a skills plan for their employees.
- Training companies offer the most up to date information about the cloud; they are in constant contact with Microsoft; they know about changes as they happens.
- Excellent learning materials in a full range of modalities.
Strategic steps in avoiding talent pipeline issues
- Create a great place for learning in your company
- Offer opportunities to learn and grow with the company
- Retain employees by keeping them engaged
- Make sure they feel valued – when they are skilled, they feel valued
- Give employees opportunities to practice their new skills
- Let them choose what they want to learn
The Galileo ‘Global Education Revolution’ Award
Wilfried Paroubek, Global Partner Executive, Microsoft made the announcements.
Two finalists: ABN AMRO – Netherlands, and KPMG Bahrain.
Winner: CAPGEMINI – Spain.