Pluralsight and USAF: leveraging technology for Digital U
Tech workforce development company Pluralsight offers a way for organisations to upskill their teams to respond to technological changes in the modern workplace. Sam Pena is VP, North America Presales at the company. “We have created an ecosystem to provide technology leaders visibility into their workforce.” He emphasises that this is achieved through three distinct ways, the first being its tech skills platform, which allows leaders to index the skills present in their workforce and adjust their strategies accordingly.
“The second way we enable tech leaders is through our engineering analytics platform,” says Pena. “Our Flow product is intended to help engineering leaders understand how developers are working and to remove bottlenecks. Then, coupling that with the tech skills platform, you can understand whether there is an area of opportunity to enable developers to work more efficiently.” The final piece of the puzzle lies in its comprehensive professional services offering, which assists tech leaders with an implementation strategy for their ecosystems.
The company’s mission to educate individuals with technical skills has only become more vital as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the pace of digital transformation. “As transformation accelerates, one of the most important questions is how do you enable the workforce to leverage new tools? That's where Pluralsight comes in, helping to align our customers with the skills they need.”
Since 2019 the company has been working closely with the United States Air Force as part of its Digital University initiative. “We’ve helped them launch their vision of recoding and retraining the Air Force, which they call Digital University or Digital U,” says Pena. “One of the nice things about Digital U is that because it's leveraging commercial products like Pluralsight, it's providing the Air Force the same type of training and skill development that you’d find at the tech giants.”
The ongoing project involves a first phase of indexing airmen and discovering the different competencies and roles that airmen need to be most effective in future missions, while the second phase will see a wider rollout of Digital U across the Air Force. “Helping the Air Force with their mission to upscale their entire workforce is something that we're really proud of here at Pluralsight. We’ve had close collaboration with the Air Force to make this project successful, with our professional services involved in helping them build out their skills strategies and embrace a culture of continuous learning, assessment and communication.”
As technology redefines and recreates roles in the modern workforce, Pluralsight will continue to work with the Air Force and others to help people best leverage that technology. “One of the new areas of focus in our partnership is in developing product engineers that are focused on human-centric design or full stack and mobile development,” says Pena. “This partnership with Digital U has helped us both learn from each other. It's been great to understand the Air Force’s mission and how we can best align to that, while on the flip side they’ve received an outsider perspective with a commercial partner that’s able to bring in its own expertise.”
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”