Most of our personal and work lives take place in the cloud. The cloud is the global network of software and services that run on the Internet instead of locally on our computers. To make the cloud go, the business of producing and staffing data centers, the massive buildings of server farms and all the requisite facility specifications to keep it all running, has grown exponentially all around the world just to keep pace.
The rapid production of data centers for a variety of organizations has placed a significant strain on the ability to train, upskill, and provide career development for the people working in them.
Lean Organizations: Data Centers
Data centers are an excellent example, an archetype, of lean organizations. By definition, they are lean organizations. Data centers are designed to maximize output and reduce any waste, especially with many employees and processes operating. There are a variety of organizations that operate this way, but data centers are a great example of trying to be as efficient as possible.
They are critical for organizations to continue to grow and supply their user base with all the information they need access to. And they are growing at a tremendous pace. Some of our partner organizations are projected to bring on data centers around the world for the next several years. The global market for data centers in 2020 was estimated at $59.3 billion and projected to grow to $143.4 billion by 2027.
What Is Driving the Need for Structured Learning Solutions for Lean Organizations
Data centers rarely have their own learning and development programs. Many times, corporations have internal programs, but the skill sets, standard operating procedures, equipment, and regulations are so specific to the environment that a specific learning program is required. Being a lean organization complicates that need because they often do not have the capacity to develop one.
As advanced and structured as data centers are, they are moving so fast that the process of formalizing standard operating procedures, data, knowledge, safety, and more is developing at a glacial pace by comparison.
Instead, these types of organizations rely on tribal knowledge, and training is delivered from word of mouth and unstructured materials, papers, and ad-hoc coaching moments.
Develop a Strategic Vision
Data centers and many other types of lean organizations are hungry for structured learning solutions. Employees look for formalized career pathing, structured upskilling, ongoing education, and more to be effective on the job. These organizations are moving quickly, but the need is massive.
Lean organizations without structured learning need to take a step back and develop a strategic vision to map how people operate facilities effectively. Once developed, organizations can move into the tactical execution to achieve the strategic vision, following the structure.
Lean organizations do not have a lot of individuals with spare time and need solutions to reduce the burden, but to effectively deliver structured learning solutions, it is critical to have instructional design and technical subject matter expertise. Lean organizations need to either identify individuals with those two skill sets internally or look outside for a partner with those capabilities to help deliver that strategic vision.
Beyond Traditional Learning with XR for Lean Organizations
Traditional learning modalities, such as virtual instructor-led training, are places to begin, but there are ways to go beyond conventional training methods while achieving a lean mentality in learning and development.
Additionally, data centers are dangerous and expensive places to work with live dead tests, cumbersome and time-consuming processes of pulling equipment offline, and much more. Extended reality (XR) is a lean learning solution in this context. Employees can leverage XR technologies to go through certain tests, simulate safety risks such as a flash arc with expensive equipment, and more to understand missteps, practice procedures, and navigate facilities before stepping into the live environment.
XR allows teams to create an immersive, life-sized replica where instructors and fellow teammates can demonstrate, collaborate, and practice.
This is a lean learning solution because it reduces the time burden, the amount of equipment needed, and the logistics of flying and lodging people from around the world. XR can be deployed on a global scale, offer more thorough exercises and hands-on experience, and be practiced repeatedly compared to in-person training.
These technologies have far-reaching impact and help to maintain that lean organization as a one-time investment that becomes evergreen learning.
Curating the Strategic Vision
Employees desire immersive experiences, but the goal is to create a workforce that is highly skilled in a variety of ways. After developing specific skill sets related to procedures, efficient operation, and safety, employees will need a guide for career pathing. Lean organizations need employees to understand where they are headed in their careers, how they take the next step, and what future skills they will need, along with opportunities for ongoing education.
In this regard, organizations need to develop strategic and holistic, full-scale learning and development programs that require very specific knowledge. When keeping up with learning demand, cultivating career paths sometimes gets lost. Workforce and talent retention is critical, particularly for lean organizations.