How Does the CTO Decide What Technical Training Is Needed?

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A CTO, or chief technology officer, evaluates short- and long-term organizational needs, and makes capital investments in technology to help that organization reach its business goals. It’s the highest executive position for technology in a company, and it’s a strategic role. That does not mean, however, that it’s a stagnant one. Learning is very much a part of the picture, especially when it comes to directing training efforts for technical teams.

The CTO will likely work with the CLO, or chief learning officer, or other organizational learning leader to decide what training would be most beneficial. But to choose the right courses or build a curriculum that will produce business impact, the CTO has to do several things.

Maintain a Pulse on the Organization and the Industry at Large

The CTO has to solve technology-related issues and make sure an organization’s software products solve key problems for its intended audience. That requires an evolving knowledge of emerging technology trends and industry changes, and intimate knowledge of what is going on in the business as well as what strengths and weaknesses exist in the organization’s technical team.

Where do they excel? Where is there room for improvement? What new skills will help to optimize current workflows and future proof the organization? Holistically, what will accelerate the team’s growth? After all, it’s the developers and engineers who will execute the organization’s vision, deliver on potential, and achieve the business results that will prove technology’s value – and secure additional funding for more training.

For instance, if it’s a retail organization, machine learning will be critical as ecommerce and online sales channels must be built and optimized to suit rapidly changing customer and product needs. Machine learning has applications for a lot of the things customers encounter in everyday life: online recommendations and offers, linguistic rule creation so that companies will know what customers are saying about them on social media, even fraud detection.Python is one of the best programming languages for machine learning. Does the team have the skills it needs to handle it?

What about big data? It’s important for many companies in a variety of industries, and it’s a critical technical training area given the increased scrutiny on data privacy and security. The CTO must determine where is the current team lacking when it comes to skills around proper data collection, storage and data mining? How are their skills in Apache Spark, R, Java, C and other relevant programming languages? That information will inform how training is built, delivered and received.

A savvy CTO will even ask technical team leaders and members for input. Why not? They’re in the trenches. They know better than anyone what they lack to succeed on the job. VMWare polls it’s engineer population annually to identify what training offerings they want. If those align with the company’s business goals and product offerings, the company will offer that training.

Lead with Data, and Keep an Eye on the Future

Taking a data-driven approach to training can be powerful, but it requires goal setting and establishing key metrics to determine whether or not business goals and objectives have been met, and training engagements are successful. Then, based on established goals, the CTO can iterate what training will produce the expected results.

This requires that a CTO actively monitor the technical team, and solicit feedback in order to identify what skills are lacking. A data-driven training strategy will allow the technical team to prioritize its resources and energy to reach quantifiable goals, and create space to discover innovative ways to get work done efficiently, achieve business success, and sustain a competitive edge.

The CTO knows how to break down the dynamics of a technical problem. He or she will also know from a strategic perspective how best to use technical talent to push the business forward, and ensure the technical team is learning, growing, and building valuable relationships. The right training is a key part of that.

Choose the Right Training Partner

This part of a training strategy is almost as important as the strategy itself. It goes without saying that the right training partner will have the very latest offerings taught by expert practitioners and skilled facilitators. But the right training vendor will also act as a business partner.

Technical training company DevelopIntelligence will not only handle logistical details around scheduling and planning time for training so that technical talent have the mental space to learn, the organization’s guidance can be invaluable when it comes to redistributing the technical team’s work, or simply choosing the optimal time to conduct training in the first place.

The right training partner can also help fill gaps in a CTOs training knowledge in the same way the CLO would to maximize the relationship, and respect everyone’s time and investment. The training partner will insist on a deep understanding of the organization’s training goals and business objectives. They will inquire what are the established measurements by which to determine success for the learning engagement? If need be, the right training partner will even help to create those goals and success measures.

For instance, what should a training cohort know how to do by the end of the class? How should they be applying their new skills on the job? What follow up should be arranged to refresh classroom knowledge, and keep those valuable peer learning conversations going once learners are back in the workplace?

The right training partner will ask a lot of questions, and invite the CTO to share their concerns about the business and about the training they hope to receive. Why? At the end of the day, the training vendor has to provide value.

The CTO will demand it because the best training is rarely done simply for its own sake. It’s done to fulfill a need, whether it’s a current business need, or one that will be needed to shape an organization’s profitable and productive future.