Training IT Staff in the Era of SaaS

Back in 2013, articles in publications were appearing with titles like “SaaS: Killer of the Traditional IT Department.” Research from Forrester at the time was predicting that by 2020, IT departments could disappear.


We can safely say now that the end of the decade has come and gone that IT is not yet on the endangered species list. But, despite some of these sensationalistic articles not aging so well, the proliferation of SaaS applications has fundamentally changed the composition of today’s IT departments.


Training and development programs offer the opportunity for IT staff to better position themselves within this landscape. Most people who spend their lives in technology know that adaptability is key to survival.


As a result of the ever-increasing use of SaaS platforms, the training provided to IT staff needs to change. It should focus on developing soft skills, understanding evolving security issues, and keep an eye on the never-ending steady stream of disruptive technologies.


This article will help you begin thinking about the training you want to provide to ensure you have a successful 2020.


Enable A Stronger Focus on Business Results


SaaS applications typically require fewer IT resources to manage. As a result, those IT managers who understand business priorities and know how to position their department to achieve these business objectives will be more valuable to organizations.


This change amounts to a shift from being a cost center into a value center relationship with the business. The result is that IT’s staff engagement with business leaders, enabling earlier participation in planning for strategic innovation and growth initiatives.


On top of this, as new technology services emerge, these services will require managers and staff experienced in dealing with vendors. IT teams need to understand how to push back and articulate what does or doesn’t make sense. Otherwise, you can end up with a massive spike in cost and a whole host of other headaches.


Therefore, it’s worthwhile to consider training in non-technical and soft skills for IT staff, helping them drive more business value. This training could focus on areas such as critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and more. IT staff appear to be eager for this kind of training: 74% of organizations remarked that professional development programs to hone soft skills are very important to their employees.


Stay on Top of Security


Security breaches have become commonplace, and customers and business partners want to know their data is fully protected. With GDPR and other privacy standards, such as consumer-specific mandates like CCPA (which took effect in January 2020), businesses are recognizing that they need to focus more on security for a myriad of reasons.


We recently wrote about the challenges associated with SaaS application security. As a result, ensuring a good chunk of IT training focuses on security is an excellent place to start.


A lot of effort goes into certification and advanced training for specified security team members, but that leaves out a lot of other IT staff members. For example, the help desk is often the front-line team when it comes to dealing with cyber-attacks on end-users. As a result, consider offering cybersecurity training to all IT teams.


Focusing on Next-Generation Technology


Beyond SaaS technology, for future success, IT teams need to create a learning culture that embraces next-generation technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, 5G, and cloud networks.


As SaaS technology continues to grow, the expectation will soon be that IT departments guide organizations through these next-gen technologies and provide a new level of service beyond just daily operational support.


From the 2019 State of the CIO research, data science and analytics skills are particularly hard to find and were cited by 42% of respondents. Following data science was AI/machine learning (31%), and cloud services/integration (22%). Instead of hiring experts, you should sponsor existing employees to get additional training, helping employees learn about topics like AI tech and data science.


Train at the Pace of Change


When training up employees in an area where emerging technology is the norm, it’s essential to keep up with the rate of innovation. That means taking an ongoing approach to fostering new skills. While SaaS hasn’t killed the IT department, it has changed it fundamentally. Ensuring you have the skillsets on your team to cope with this fact, will allow you to be successful in 2020 and beyond.


Want to learn more, please check out our SaaS Security eBook.

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.
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