The Home Depot (THD) is the world’s largest home-improvement retailer and leverages a data-driven approach to meet growing customer demand.
Focusing on building a world-class interconnected retail experience to enable their customers to accomplish more required a two-fold solution – they needed to upskill their IT staff to equip them to extract the most from the cloud as well as to drive efficient business operations. But that wasn’t all – they also needed an accelerated training roadmap that could deliver results in weeks (as opposed to years) to enable completion of a multi-year migration to the cloud.
As THD focused to move to an agile deployment cycle to more quickly meet customer needs, Google Cloud, along with internal and external partners, developed an accelerated training and certification roadmap aligned with THD’s growth initiatives.
As the scale of Google Cloud across the business increased, THD was faced with the challenge of how to effectively train thousands of employees across a very broad and diverse range of scope-related topics to fully leverage all of Google Cloud’s capabilities. THD’s internal learning and enablement team, OrangeMethod, partnered with Google Cloud Customer Experience to ensure they had an effective level of guidance for this massive undertaking. By harnessing the expertise of Google Cloud Learning services and Premium Support for Google Cloud, THD was in an ideal position to develop a strategic approach that enabled them to effectively implement a training program for its technology associates.
Training, enablement, and cloud support have become the most important areas for the Google Cloud Customer Experience team to highlight with each customer. Leveraging our training provider, ROI Training, Google Cloud Learning services ran a 10-week cohort program with THD to equip their associates with the Professional Cloud Architect certification. This project was then scaled-up to create a quarterly schedule for certifying cohorts of THD employees in Google Cloud. Google Cloud Learning services, along with OrangeMethod, launched an internal website to – manage registration and gather statistics from their associates on associates who were interested in participating in the training curriculum in the future. With Premium Support for Google Cloud, THD also collaborated with their Technical Account Manager (TAM) to secure proactive technical guidance for cultivating enterprise-wide business and technical transformation. The TAM’s customer-aware knowledge of THD’s systems and environments that ensured THD implemented training solutions best suited for their associates’ needs.
A second area of focus was to ensure monthly Cloud Hero events across various topics including data, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). Cloud Hero events deliver short half-day sessions with hands-on training and discussion about a specific topic, which enables associates to become upskilled in a very short timeframe through an engaging event that leverages topics of interest. Together, monthly Cloud Hero events were completed along with certification cohorts and customized training where needed. This structured path resulted in hundreds of THD associates gaining the additional skills they needed to more efficiently tackle complex projects in addition to creating a solid learning base which will enable THD to handle more groups and scale their educational training to accommodate even more associates in the future.
In addition, THD leadership was keen to standardize ML workflows and facilitate cohesive collaboration across engineering teams through hands-on experience. Their senior engineering principals teamed up with talent development stakeholders from THD’s internal IT training team, OrangeMethod, and approached Google Cloud’s Advanced Solutions Lab (ASL) to find the best means to upskill their top data engineers in ML and data solutions such as BigQuery and Vertex AI. THD team leaders had a desire to build a custom curriculum plan in collaboration with Google ML software engineers and SMEs. The goal was to create deep-dive hands-on instruction in training, tuning, and serving models with Vertex AI. This bespoke program included orchestrating ML workflows relying on BigQuery data with Vertex Pipelines, monitoring models deployed to Vertex Endpoints, creating scalable low-latency nearest neighbor lookups with Vertex Matching Engine, and enabling distributed data processing with Apache Beam and Cloud Dataflow. THD cycled two teams through this custom training curriculum within 60 days, and is now working with the ASL team to move three more data engineering teams through this training by the end of 2022.
Proving the value and impact for the training program was essential to gain continued executive sponsorship for expanding the certification journeys. THD executed a robust survey directly with associates to gauge the business gains of the training program. Over the course of two years, more than 300 associates completed the training delivered by ROI Training, with 92% reporting that it was valuable, and shared interest in taking additional Google Cloud courses. The most popular track, Professional Cloud Architect, confirmed that 86% of respondents agreed that the Google Cloud training was applicable to their role, while another 75% confirmed that they used knowledge from their Google Cloud training on a weekly basis.
“The Home Depot successfully partnered with Google Cloud to put together a comprehensive multi-year training and enablement plan. Google Cloud supported THD with multiple certification cohorts, Advanced Solution Lab engagements, topics-based training, and Cloud Hero events. This training strategy worked to accelerate our cloud migrations and upskill our associates.” — Chris Black, VP Technology – Chief Architect, THD
By combining the resources of Google Cloud Learning services and the fully tailored guidance of their TAM via Premium Support for Google Cloud, THD has trained more than 900 employees and certified close to 240 associates. The team members gained a deeper insight into various Google Cloud topics. When combined with Premium Support services, THD continues their journey to the cloud while ensuring ongoing business and industry growth and leadership.
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