When telecommunications company TracFone Wireless (TracFone) began its cloud adoption journey, it realized it needed to undergo both a technical and an organizational transformation, so it sought to upgrade its workforce’s technical skills. TracFone used Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build a scalable, long-term training approach and foster a culture of continual learning. Using AWS Training and Certification—which offers both digital and classroom training—to build cloud fluency, TracFone saved millions of dollars, increased agility, and demonstrated to employees its investment in their futures.
Using AWS Training and Certification was a game changer for us."
Director of Cloud Migration and Strategy,
Developing a Scalable Training Plan
TracFone provides prepaid wireless services for customers in the United States. With roughly 1,000 employees and millions of customers, the company’s mantra is “Coverage and access for all.” TracFone began its journey from on-premises data centers to the cloud in 2018. In the beginning stages of cloud maturity—and seeking to avoid depending on costly consultants—TracFone wanted to give technical and nontechnical employees common cloud fluency and the technical skills to accomplish the migration on their own. “I think for any cloud journey, most of your challenges are going to be nontechnical. But the technical is your foundation, so without that everything else will crumble. The technical helps to solve a lot of those nontechnical challenges,” says John Jackson, director of cloud migration and strategy at TracFone. “So showing employees that you’re investing in their technological skills helps to build your company culture.”
TracFone was facilitating onetime learning and generating its own training content, but it needed a more scalable model. Targeting all skill sets, from beginner to advanced, TracFone created a phased approach to training its staff using AWS Training and Certification. “Using AWS was instrumental in helping us figure out our next steps based on our organization’s specific place in its journey,” says Jackson.
First, TracFone addressed the basics using AWS Technical Essentials, which covers the foundations of cloud computing, storage, and networking on AWS, and AWS Business Essentials, which focuses on the benefits of cloud computing. It followed these with more advanced role- and solution-based courses and exams covering technical topics such as machine learning (ML). Rather than only digital, self-paced content, TracFone employees participated in classroom courses led by expert instructors. This format gave learners a forum where they could ask questions and helped them engage with the material on a deeper level. The company continues to drive engagement and keep skills current using digital training.
This phased approach gave employees across the organization new skills quickly while forming a long-term plan to facilitate continual learning organization-wide. By early 2021, nearly 200 TracFone information technology employees had developed skills using AWS Training. Promoting professional growth, TracFone encouraged employees to use AWS Certifications to validate those skills, with more than 30 employees earning AWS Certifications. TracFone learners benefited from earning AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate—which validates the ability to design and implement distributed systems on AWS—and from preparing for it, including by taking Architecting on AWS—which covers the fundamentals of building information technology infrastructure on AWS. “Earning AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate was extremely helpful for us,” says Jackson.
Investing in Employees While Saving Millions
By training employees to handle the cloud migration in house, TracFone saved millions of dollars, avoiding consulting fees and increasing team efficiency in working on AWS. But investing in employees also created a less tangible benefit that affected company culture. “It gives people confidence that they can keep making themselves better practitioners, which increases the capability of the information technology organization,” says Jackson.
Expanding employees’ skills and providing new functionality increased agility and efficiency. “The biggest benefit besides cost is agility. It’s the ability to give new functionality to solve our business problems to our business teams quickly,” says Jackson. When TracFone added a natural language capability to its automated customer care phone system using Amazon Connect, a simple-to-use omnichannel cloud contact center, and Amazon SageMaker, which helps companies prepare, build, train, and deploy high-quality ML models, it built a pilot in months rather than the years it would have taken on premises. “Using AWS Training and Certification was a game changer for us,” says Jackson.
Advancing a Culture of Continual Learning
TracFone has used AWS-provided learning techniques such as AWS Immersion Days, internal skills development series, learning days, and hackathons. As TracFone continues its ongoing training initiative, it’s helping its teams stay current through just-in-time digital training.
“We have a cross-functional skill set where we’re all responsible for the entire pie—from finance to security to technology. That helps the entire organization deliver better, faster, and more efficiently for our customers,” says Jackson.
About TracFone Wireless
Based in the United States, TracFone Wireless is a telecommunications company that aims to make wireless service affordable and accessible by providing prepaid, month-to-month options.
Benefits of AWS
- Saved millions of dollars in consulting fees by training existing employees to build on AWS
- Bolstered employee confidence in technical skills and cloud fluency
- Increased agility and efficiency through new functionality
- Supports a long-term training plan to facilitate an organization-wide culture of continual learning
- Facilitated scalable training
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