Kymber Lowe headshot
Kymber Lowe Senior Director, Partner Digital Experiences and Programs, One Commercial Partner

Learn to harness the power of a skilled workforce

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There’s an old saying that goes, “Nothing remains constant except change itself.” Digital transformation has made this more apparent than ever, as organizations around the world continually work to reinvent themselves to stay ahead of an ever-shifting business landscape. The past year has taught us just how rapidly change can come—for many organizations, the widespread shift to remote work took place over just a few days or weeks. 

In this fast-moving environment, perpetuating the status quo is not a viable business strategy. Our organizations and customers need to be actively engaged in evolving along with the business environment in order to stay relevant. Your growth will never outpace your capabilities, and helping your workforce acquire new, high-demand skills through continuous learning should be at the center of your approach to change. 

Microsoft understands how vital it is for the people in your organization to develop new skills, and the huge opportunity for partners to assist customers with their own transformations. This is one of the many reasons why we invest so heavily in providing the right assessments, training, certifications, and advanced specializations to help your organization meet the ever-changing needs of your customers. We’re also committed to sharing ongoing insights and guidance with our ecosystem to ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve. 

Embracing continuous learning and development 

It’s important to understand which investments in new skills will yield the greatest results for your organization. Targeting a mix of hiring new talent, training your workforce, and earning certifications and advanced specializations will help maximize your return on investment. As I shared in a recent blog post, we recommend starting with the Partner Transformation Readiness Assessment. This resource will help you benchmark current capabilities, identify gaps, and provide resources and recommendations for the training and certifications you should focus on next. 

Hiring new employees is one of the most direct ways to bring valuable abilities into your organization, and our Recruit, Hire, Onboard, and Retain Talent playbook can help you do so effectively. However, there is often high demand for specialized skillsets related to digital transformation. For example, the cybersecurity industry is expected to face a talent shortage of 3.5 million workers by the end of this year. As an alternative to bringing on external talent, you should also consider upskilling current workers. Doing so often involves absorbing costs for continuing education and lost productivity, but it can pay dividends in the long run—especially when compared to the approximately 52 days and USD4,000 it takes on average to recruit a new hire, according to Bersin by Deloitte.  

Microsoft certifications are a globally recognized option to expand and prove your proficiency in a specific area. Certifications can also help customers more easily identify partners with the right skillsets to meet their specific needs. To help our customers and partners keep pace with technology, we’ve been transitioning from product-focused certifications to invest in our role-based learning offerings. With this in mind, we recently announced

  • Free certification renewals: Starting in early February 2021, you’ll be able to renew your role-based and specialty certifications for a year at a time by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn. These can be completed on-demand anytime within the six months prior to your certification’s expiration. To help you prepare, you’ll have access a free collection of curated learning modules for each renewal assessment. 
  • Certifications will now be valid for one year: Starting in June 2021, role-based and specialty certifications will stay valid for one year to better align with the rapid pace of change with cloud technology.  

In addition to certifications, your organization can also attain silver and gold competencies and earn advanced specializations to demonstrate proficiency across a variety of areas including Microsoft Azure, modern work, security, and business applications. 

Investing in the people that power your organization 

In addition to building your capabilities as an organization, investing in continual development is a great way to empower your employees to grow and advance in their careers. It’s important to remember that the core of any company comprises people with individual goals, commitments, and ambitions. By demonstrating that your company is committed to ongoing improvement, you can foster a growth mindset across the organization that can boost loyalty and engagement. 

We have a number of training resources to help your team learn, get certified, and stay current, including:  

  • Microsoft Learn: Gain an understanding of Microsoft technologies with on-demand content organized around real-world job tasks. 
  • Partner Training Center: Access role-specific learning paths and build your skills on Microsoft products and solutions. 
  • Partner Practice Development playbooks: Discover essential blueprints and tools to develop, analyze, manage, and secure an effective cloud practice that’s built to last. A variety of topics  are covered, including growing your ISV business, Internet of Things (IoT), AI, data platform and analytics, cloud migration, operations and infrastructure, and security. 

Beyond training, it’s essential to intentionally incorporate diversity and inclusion into your organization. Diverse viewpoints can help you access new audiences, avoid blind spots, and build a richer culture. For example, there are more than 1 billion people worldwide with a disability—so hiring employees with a disability isn’t just the right thing to do, it can help your organization better understand this massive market’s needs. 

Continual learning and development are key to the long-term success of your organization. As digital transformation continues to reshape the business landscape, your ability to adapt your workforce quickly and effectively will translate into resilience that can help you weather future storms and come out ahead. I look forward to learning with you and from you as we work together throughout this coming year.