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Insights from IDC: Selecting the right tech skill development partner

An organization’s digital transformation success depends on a number of factors, from optimizing technology investments to creating a culture of learning that attracts and retains employees. Today’s increasingly complex landscape requires businesses to select the right technology skill development partner in order to remove barriers to digital transformation.

In a recent webinar, IDC analyst Cushing Anderson and Pluralsight executives discussed IDC’s new research and hot topics IT leaders need to know to create effective and lasting change.

Here are some highlights, as discussed by Anderson along with Gary Eimerman, GM of Pluralsight Skills and Drew Firment, VP of Enterprise Strategies at Pluralsight.

Trends shaping skills and training development in the digital transformation journey

While digital transformation is a major objective for most organizations today, broader global trends impact the need for skills and training.

Drivers include an increased IT talent demand and financial models. The demand for skills and education is compounded by the general demand for talent in a tight labor market. The need for training increases as the talent market gets tighter.

Inhibitors include the negative short-term impact the pandemic has had on IT education with a shift from face-to-face learning to self-paced elearning and virtual, instructor-led training. Another inhibitor is that training is largely undervalued and therefore an afterthought in business decisions, including budgetary ones.

IDC’s skill development maturity model

IDC’s maturity model shows five levels of sophistication of planning for training and for executing IT skill development projects.

IDC Maturity Model

The least mature level has an IT individual taking initiative on their own and the most mature is future-focused approach where senior IT leaders tie ongoing skill development to both business and digital transformation objectives. The most common approach, referred to as the “squeaky wheel,” is somewhere in the middle where leaders guide team members to relevant courses. In these instances, leaders typically have to advocate up the management chain to pay for training.  

In the third phase, group leaders coordinate training available to IT professionals to support requirements and in the fourth, IT leaders articulate to the entire organization the value of ongoing skill development to achieve IT objectives. This level is found to be hit or miss, where leaders haven’t tied execution of learning and development to the organization’s strategic vision. 

IDC research finds that a lack of skills has delayed digital transformation journeys for organizations by an average of 35 weeks worldwide. When organizations are at stage five, or “future focused,” they can reduce the impact of the skills gap by more than a third. 

Impact of skills on business outcomes: 6 common use cases for technology skill development

An organization’s needs will determine which technology skills are most important to develop but IDC found six common use cases for skill development. Each use case has a unique set of characteristics in audience, use of skills assessments, typical proficiency, and timeframes.

The six most common are:

  1. Foundation/literacy/compliance - Gives employees a foundational understanding of analytics or of cloud, for example, rather than helps a specific performance behavior. This often requires documentation of completion each year.

  2. New skill development - An example is if an organization decides to deploy a new program, environment, or a process change and needs employees to have specific skills (often under time constraints) to accomplish this.

  3. Upskilling - When a new employee is promoted or they’re going to be a project lead, they may need to acquire some new skills for their new role.

  4. Reskilling - This can be used, for example, when moving support staff into developer roles or making developers architects. It requires employee initiative on an ongoing basis.

  5. Ongoing skill maintenance - Often overlooked, it’s important to allow employees to refresh their skills every year to stay current.

  6. Attracting, engaging and retaining talent - Your organization might have training initiatives designed to make the work environment better to attract new talent and retain existing talent, creating a culture of lifelong learning.

Organizations should think about these six use cases when building programs. This will also help you determine how you want to leverage your training provider, how you want to fund it, and what the scope is. To become a future-focused organization, it’s critical to build future skills into your transformation plan – and execute throughout that entire plan. 

The importance of your skills and training provider

To successfully build a skill development program and to select the right skill development partner, organizations consider a wide range of criteria. IDC listed 29 total characteristics organizations use, spanning ‘quality,’ ‘offering,’ ‘delivery,’ ‘services,’ and ‘other.’

IDC Client Perception Chart

The top 10 ranked criteria from IDC survey respondents were: instructor quality, quality of presentation, quality of materials, relevance of material, ease of finding content needed, information from a trusted source, breadth of learning, course schedule/availability, appropriate course length, and self-paced elearning option.

The top four criteria were all in the ‘quality’ category. Interestingly enough, having a self-paced elearning option ranked much higher than other delivery methods including lab environments and on-site classrooms. Responses in recent pre-pandemic years showed elearning ranking much lower in the overall score.

IDC also asked the same respondents to rate their current vendors on the same characteristics to understand importance versus capability. What they found was that vendors are generally successful with quality and offering. But, with services, end-to-end learning services and IT process training are important yet unsuccessfully delivered. With delivery, only self-paced delivery is both above average importance and successfully delivered. Other delivery options are both less important and less successfully delivered. 

IDC evaluates this criteria because it helps them evaluate vendors across a wide spectrum of providers and in different geographies in what they call IDC MarketScape. IDC MarketScape includes an analysis of the most well-known IT training firms with portfolios that are appropriate to organizations considering transformation initiatives. As part of the study, IDC MarketScape looked at the factors expected to impact the success of a company’s training efforts in both the short term and the long term. 

The IDC MarketScape* positioned Pluralsight in the Leaders category, noting in the report that “Pluralsight Skills and Pluralsight Flow products provide training solutions to tech leaders to help them deliver on critical objectives.” 

You can download an excerpt of the IDC MarketScape report here.

Additional key insights from the webinar

We shared some highlights from our webinar with IDC, but you can watch the on demand recording for the full experience. 

You’ll also learn:

  • Data that dispels the myth that IT professionals leave their employer when they get certified 

  • The skills that matter the most to IT professionals in the U.S. according to IDC data

  • The power of training in the example of cloud transformation 

  • Practical tips such as how to migrate talent to the cloud and the importance of getting the entire organization on board 

Businesses understand the importance of linking skills to business objectives. Connecting skills to outcomes requires a strategic and programmatic approach. With its portfolio of Skills, Cloud, Flow and ProServ, Pluralsight can be that strategic partner to business and enterprises to drive digital transformation. Contact us to learn more or to speak with an experienced rep.

*IDC MarketScape, U.S. IT Training 2021 Vendor Assessment, IDC #US47541121e, December 2021