We’re excited to continue our blog series to share the learning journeys of our customers, partners, employees, and future generations. Today, we present the third blog in the series and show how Microsoft is working with its partners worldwide to help build and validate technical skills using Microsoft technologies.
In June 2020, Accenture achieved something that no Microsoft partner has ever done; the company trained so many employees that it submitted it as a Guinness World Record. The massive global systems integrator certified a record number of global Azure certifications from a single organization with 20,000 employees across all Microsoft solutions in a fiscal year. Accenture also achieved a record with 17,000 certified employees on Azure.
“At Accenture continuous learning, constant upskilling, and achieving expertise at scale is a way of life,” explains Raghavan Iyer, Advanced Technology Centers Lead for Avanade and leader for its Azure Cloud Practice. “In order to capture the mindshare of all the engineering professionals in our organization, we kicked off a program called ‘Microsoft on my Mind’ and recorded the highest number of Azure certifications ever, a 500% increase year-over-year. We immediately saw a tremendous response and were proud when Microsoft informed us that we were named Microsoft Global Alliance SI Partner of the Year.”
Advanced Technology Center
The central point for record-setting global technical training success of the Microsoft on Mind program is Avanade’s Advanced Technology Center, also led by Iyer. The initiative targeted practitioners who focused on both Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies across both Accenture and Avanade, a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft. A big part of the program was a specifically designed cross-technology framework targeted at the Microsoft practitioners to measure the versatility of the company’s talent. Accenture identified the basic skill sets of their talent, after which they were quickly rotated into other Microsoft technology training programs.
“Continuous learning has definitely given a tremendous boost to my career,” said Tuhin Sarkar, who achieved two Azure certifications as part of the Accenture program this year. “I use Microsoft Learn to study different topics when I have time and it has also helped me focus on the right areas as it provides learning advice and suggestions. I am planning to add higher level certifications this upcoming year.”
Microsoft on my Mind
Accenture used a variety of unique approaches to constantly initiate its employees to engage in upskilling their Microsoft credentials. The ‘Microsoft on My Mind’ program started with a massive and very successful Data and AI hackathon, followed by the largest Teams hackathon in the world (to-date) that generated over 800 ideas. The third event, Azure Cloud Week, aimed to emphasize and drive Azure certification at Accenture. The icing on the cake was a speech by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, during his visit to India. Dubbed “Developer Empowered,” the Accenture event was simulcast across seven cities to drive certification at scale for Power Platform.
“The whole process was really motivating because there was a lot of excitement across the team to get certified,” said Manas Chatterjee, a cloud architect at Accenture who has completed more than fifteen certifications and is also is a trainer in the program. “As an architect and trainer, I always have to be on top of the latest technologies, so learning is a big part of my job. During the ‘Microsoft on my Mind’ effort, we not only leveraged self-paced study through Microsoft Learn, but they also established a platform where we’re able to connect to other senior architects to share viewpoints, case studies and ideas. And that connection has continued as a standing weekly meeting to learn.”
Diversity and inclusion matters
A big part of Accenture’s success was a heavy investment in diversity as a part of its training programs. Over the past fiscal year, 37% of its certified employees in the program were women, a number that will only keep growing, according to Alakananda Ray, an Enterprise Cloud Architect at the company, who also leads the India Azure Test Capability and is the heart and soul of the company’s ‘Women In Cloud’ initiative.
“Accenture runs several programs for women in technology to support our diversity and inclusion charter,” explains Ray. “Many of the participants in the program are mothers returning to the workforce. Microsoft Learn provides immense flexibility with self-paced learning content to help prepare for certification, regardless of whether they are a business analyst, developer, or an architect. The learning culture here at Accenture is invaluable.”
Enabling partners to upskill
The Accenture learning story is one of many across the Microsoft Partner Network's effort to increase partner technical and practice development. Microsoft has developed resources to guide partners through the journey, starting with a Partner Transformation Readiness Assessment, which determines current capability for partners who want to participate and provides guidance on next steps to grow technical and business skills. From there, partners are directed to the Training Center, a connection point to on-demand technical, sales, and marketing learning paths and courses, including the Virtual Training Series, which offers certification preparation courses and advanced technical training. Microsoft also provides guidance on how to hire a trainer to ensure partners get the right people to deliver solutions and services customers need.
“The skills gap is a real threat to the success and profitability of our partners. Microsoft supports partners by helping them make the training investments to create a culture of learning and professional development,” adds Phil Webb, Business Strategy for Partner Enablement at Microsoft. “Accenture is a great example of a partnership where we deeply invested in each other’s success. We have done a lot of intense work on skilling with Accenture in our FY20, including the support of their events throughout the year to encourage employee skilling on Microsoft technologies.”
Accenture, in the meantime, is waiting patiently to find out whether its skilling milestones will be recognized by the Guinness World Records and has no plans to slow down its record-setting learning initiatives. The company is continuing to invest and expand in the successful skilling programs it has instituted, and is encouraging recently-certified employees to take different, deeper, or more specialized training and certifications, while is also planning regional versions of their cloud week event across the globe this upcoming fiscal year. Get ready for more records in 2021.
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