Case studies

Pluralsight + Telefonica: Innovative products require a new way of learning

Innovative products require a new way of learning

The single biggest challenge for a company like Telefonica is staying ahead of the unrelenting pace of change. That sounds cliché, but for the United Kingdom’s mobile industry leader, it is a very real business problem. Keeping up isn’t enough for an enterprise technology company ranked #1 in customer satisfaction seven times in a row. Telefonica has to lead with new ideas, expertise and innovation to deliver cutting-edge products and services that delight 347 million customers year after year. 

Telefonica’s blueprint for 2020 promises digital products and services that improve people’s lives in meaningful ways. Delivering on that promise requires a serious investment of time and money in tools and training to create and support new technologies that haven’t even been imagined yet. As new devices, platforms and technologies come online, traditional learning solutions no longer support this constant pace of change.


Our people are actually learning to develop the skills they need, at a time that suits them, at a pace that suits them, at a cost that suits us. That's having a massive impact on our ability to upgrade our skills.


Derek McManus
COO, Telefonica

Stepping up the pace of skill development

So Telefonica UK’s management team reached out to Pluralsight for help.

“To drive an organization that moves as quickly as ours does, sending people on formal courses and learning just doesn’t fit any more,” says Chief Operating Officer Derek McManus. “It’s expensive and time-consuming. That's where Pluralsight and our online academy really help us develop the skill base of our people, at a pace and a time that suits them.” 

Pluralsight’s technology learning platform offers flexibility that traditional in-class training simply can’t match. Rather than sending employees off-site for days at a time, Telefonica UK’s employees can access Pluralsight anytime they need it—from their desks in their offices or from home after hours.

And they do. Chief Information Officer, Brendan O’Rourke, reports that Telefonica UK has almost 1,000 employees consuming more than 300 hours of Pluralsight every week. 


What we see is people in those specially skilled areas like mobile application development and IT service management are really accessing the content, understanding it will give them the skills they need today and the professional qualifications they’ll need in the future,


Brendan O'Rourke
CIO, Telefonica

Andrew Hodgson, who heads up Telefonica’s UK innovation hub, The Lab, confirms the value of always-available training. “Using a tool like Pluralsight means that we can get access to technology experts 24 hours a day. It doesn’t matter if it's Monday morning or Christmas day, we get access when we need it."


Saving millions in training costs and time

The savings is significant. Sending 1,000 employees to off-site, classroom training costs millions. And that doesn’t include lost productivity or time away from work. When asked about the potential savings, Paul Harrison, Head of IP and Security Design noted, “there are significant cost savings, but actually the time saving is the biggest factor. The people on my team have skills that are in demand on-site every day, so if they're away on a training course, that creates a difficult situation.”

But just as important as the financial and time savings, providing access to Pluralsight is a powerful employee benefit. “Learning is an inspiring experience,” says Paul. “Being able to pick what you learn and learn in a way that suits you, so you feel you've gained knowledge, that's a real benefit too.” 

Providing a learning platform to employees makes them better at their jobs today and builds skills so they can easily move into the jobs of tomorrow. 

“We should stop looking at ourselves and defining ourselves as a role, and we should start defining ourselves as a set of skills,” says Derek. “If you define yourself as a particular role, chances are over time that role will change dramatically or cease to exist, and therefore that harms your ability to stay pace. But if employees can continue to develop their skill set, then they can stay relevant and be part of our future.”

at a glance

Building digital skills drives award-winning results

Like most enterprise companies, Telefonica isn’t interested in training that excites employees in the classroom, but doesn’t create meaningful change for the business. Does all this effort translate into tangible business results? Yes, it does. 

“We've won website of the year for 3 years in a row,” says Brendan. “We've got one of the best self-service apps on the App Store with 5 star reviews.” 

Telefonica UK’s ability to train people to build mobile and digital applications is critical to maintaining that level of success. So it makes sense that the most common Pluralsight courses consumed by Telefonica UK employees are on mobile app development. “It's no coincidence,” continues Brendan, “that we win awards for our mobile innovation and our application innovation.” 

It all comes back to pace of change. Continuing a track record of awards for innovation requires smart investments in skill development. 

“How we develop those skills is changing,” says Brendan. “Ten years ago it might have been a lot of classrooms, a lot of external training. Now we need our people to be self motivated, able to train themselves in these skills and show that they can put the effort and energy into creating their own role for the future of this business.” 

And thanks to Pluralsight, that’s exactly what Telefonica UK is doing. The results speak for themselves.

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