Education Helps Make IT Transformation Real

No industry is immune to the rapid pace of digital change. Businesses acutely feel the overwhelming pressure to transform to stay competitive in the digital economy. However, IT transformation is no simple thing. It requires companies to tackle a variety of organizational challenges while also keeping pace with ongoing technical advances across a range of disciplines.

IT Transformation Becomes a Business Imperative

Today, emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) are driving new IT imperatives. At the same time, IT practices and cultures have also progressed, most notably with IT departments moving from isolated, technology-centric units to become more business-focused and integrated.

Companies can only prosper in today’s digital world by aggressively modernizing and automating their IT infrastructure, adopting new deployment models such as cloud computing, and fine-tuning their opera­tional practices and IT skills. The business’s dependence on IT has increased the urgency of IT transformation.

Peer insights shared from CIO workshops conducted by Dell EMC have provided IT decision-makers with critical knowledge as they shape their own transformation initiatives.

From an IT skills development perspective, these specific findings from the workshops stand out:

  • CIOs placed high priority on IT skills development to prepare their IT organizations for transformation.
  • 54% have audited but not mapped skills + trained individuals for some new roles (image).
  • 78% aim to integrate new IT skills and roles with full business alignment (image).

Making Skills Transformation Real

Training is highly important to transformation success. Both individuals and organizations need to make a commitment to learning if they want to make transformation successful – both for themselves and their companies. Developing and applying new learning capabilities will enable individuals to be more effective at their jobs and help the organization navigate their IT and digital transformation. This mutual commitment pays off in many ways: for example, a recent survey shows that organizations that invest in their employees’ training tend to retain them for 5 years or more, while employees are more effective, more satisfied and more loyal – a win-win for everyone.

Education as a Path to Skills Transformation

Education plays a key role in enabling organizational readiness and skills development to ensure enterprises can compete in the digital economy. The transformation journey begins with mapping the organization’s skills readiness to its ability to meet the challenges of rapidly evolving processes and technologies. Transformation success increases when organizations begin their journey by building from three fundamental tenets:

Understand the present, plan for the future: Assess learning needs. The skills needed to build and manage digital enterprises differ from the skills businesses possess today. To move from a current state to a desired future state, start by defining the current state: conduct a thorough assessment of your most important resource—your people—to identify and eliminate skill gaps which hamper IT’s ability to execute its strategic initiatives.

The skills assessment allows for a gap analysis between existing knowledge and skills and those needed for the future. Now you can analyze the team’s learning needs, and build a structured training plan that enables progress towards transformational activities and allows for performance monitoring – all in alignment with business goals. Enhancing and expanding the knowledge of the individuals also allows for growth opportunities that will both inspire and retain employees as well as drive operational improvements.

Encourage and support continuous learning. Individuals need to learn and evolve, taking advantage of both formal and informal opportunities to do so. Making learning available at the point of need, and building a culture of continuous learning is vital.

With the right approach and access to a variety of learning methods, training doesn’t have to be expensive or tremendously time-consuming; but it should be thoughtful and based on individual and business needs. A “continuous learning” approach can include a variety of training approaches such as On-Demand, classroom-based, and On-Demand Labs. Today, there are a number of education offerings available in formats that align with these transformational learning methods, including on-demand training, micro-learning, MOOCs, and so forth.

Taking a conscious approach that allows for both formal and informal learning is key to success.

Validate trusted advisors to lead digital transformation. In an environment of continuous learning where formal and informal learning opportunities are available, learning will be both self-driven and aligned to business requirements. Enterprises need the confidence that their IT professionals are acquiring the necessary skills and experience for both individual and organizational success. Knowledge and skills can be validated through certification, which gives both individuals and leaders the confidence that they have the skills to be a trusted advisor in charting the path of an organization’s transformation. Organizations benefit by being able to establish teams of trusted advisors who, while having the skills to maximize the performance of today’s data center, also have proven capabilities to build and manage the digital enterprise of the future. At an individual level, these certifications validate expertise and the IT professional’s ability.


IT transformation is critical to maintaining a business advantage in today’s digital landscape. This vision cannot be realized without enabling skills transformation in your IT organization. Assessing skills gaps and committing to address them, encouraging both formal and informal learning options, and validating your team’s learning achievements will put your organization on the path to transformation success.

About the Author: Cindy Etherington

Cindy Etherington, Vice President of Dell Technologies Education Services, is responsible for supporting our customers, partners and internal team members with world-class, innovative training and certification solutions. With over 25 years of experience in the technology industry, Cindy joined Dell in 2011. Previous responsibilities included operations and planning for Dell Services and Digital, as well as go-to-market strategy and enablement programs for Global Technology Alliances and the Americas Professional Services businesses. Earlier in her career Cindy held various services sales leadership positions at Hewlett Packard Company, Compaq Computer Company and Digital Equipment Corporation. She is a graduate of Lesley College in Cambridge with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Cindy is an advocate for women’s leadership and active mentor for young professionals. Cindy and her husband, Mark, live in Massachusetts and have two adult children.
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