Enterprises competence today has new standards in the form of digital transformation of their workforce, empowering their users with product training and closing skill gaps in their talent pool. At the same time Learning and Development strategies in enterprises are also taking a sharp turn with optimised swift, engaging, and effective technical training practices. With the need to ensure the continuous digital transformation of the workforce, it is imperative that enterprises facilitate hands-on training infrastructures and invest in hands-on learning and development programs. As newer technologies are emerging at lesser frequencies and the shelf life of skills reducing drastically, physical infrastructure for hands-on training is getting out-dated earlier than expected for businesses.
Where does a Sandbox Lab fit in the context of Learning & Development?
Virtual training labs are the easiest means to establish a culture of learning by doing among learners. It facilitates a practice-based learning environment suited for higher knowledge retention compared to traditional passive training modes. However, higher percentage of learner engagement is not the only advantage associated with cloud-hosted virtual labs. Additional features associated with the use of virtual labs in IT training are:
- Reduced Training Costs – With virtual labs in place, your organisation can eliminate the costs associated with maintenance of a physical instructor-led lab, or substantial investments in IT. You also curb wastage of a huge amount of time and money in travel as virtual practice labs can be accessed from any location and anytime.
- Improved Scalability – Use of virtual labs can be scaled to meet just about any training requirement. From individuals to a handful of learners or even enterprises with thousands of employees and customers, each learner receives the same high-quality learning experience.
- Greater Demographic Reach – No matter where the learner is located, as long as the learner has a web browser and internet connectivity, he/she can access any lab and complete hands-on projects on these labs.
- Pay for what you Use – Virtual labs usage can be gated as per requirement and billed as per the usage. So learners get enough time to explore additional reading materials and come back to practice their learning at convenience.
Use Cases for Live Sandbox Environment in IT and Technical Training
Any enterprise customer using a new software product might require virtual, hands-on training environment that let them understand the software they will eventually use, but in a consequence-free sandbox environment. As virtual lab are not mere simulations, these mimic the actual software in a non-production environment. This makes it safe for developing enterprises and end user to freely experiment without affecting the actual product.
Product Training for Employees
Software product development revolves around frequent updates and releases. Enterprises trying to use a new technology or a new release, their employees need to learn how to use the new product. Virtual labs provide the necessary push required to prepare teams up to speed with hands-on experiences.
Cloud-hosted virtual labs eliminate the need for seemingly insufficient and time-consuming traditional IT configurations and instructor-led training sessions. What else, each learner can access these software practice labs from any browser, ensuring higher user adoption and engagement.
Customer and Partner Training
Enterprises can let their customers and business partners utilize virtual labs for training purposes anytime anywhere. Easy access to virtual labs avoid long travels or minor risks associated with installation of software on physical infrastructures. With having a web browser the only requirement, participation in such software training become extremely reliable with powerful servers in the cloud which facilitates complex data analysis or processing. Companies using virtual labs for customer and employee training have recovered up to 80% of their team’s training time. This time is utilised to develop and material for customers and close 100% growth in their training attendance.
Sales Enablement & Product Demos
Sales enablement is one of the most popular use cases of virtual labs in training, particularly for complex software applications. Sales might go down because of the prospective buyer’s ability to grasp the product or see its value due to complexity. Demonstrations and collaterals may not suffice in these cases unless your prospect gets a hands-on experience of the product themselves.
Virtual lab solves this problem with ease by providing the buyer with a fully functional sandbox environment of your software. Users get to take it as a “test drive” and see the value by exploring the product. The virtual lab can also be used for conferences and summits as a tool to accelerate product adoption with “try before you buy” experiences as preview and test products. Businesses quote that virtual labs give them the ability to isolate learning for their audience by pre-configuring sandbox environment with a focus on learning objectives – and not other features.
Software developers reap enormous learning benefits of virtual labs by acquiring hands-on experiences in new SDK, API or programming language without setting practice environments locally with all dependencies.
With developmental aspects like problem-solving, especially debugging and troubleshooting, no amount of text or video lecture can replace hands-on experience. A virtual lab as sandbox environments provides developers an opportunity to practice on real-world problems and solve them without any risk of distorting the live system. Sandbox environments also remain a handy tool for developers who need to test the code of new software with accuracy.
The Future of Software Learning
As information technology continues to drive the world economy, enterprises continue to adopt newer technologies just-in-time. Learners irrespective of their experience in the industry continue to upskill and reskill with ‘just-for-me’ learning experiences. With the growing need of learning agility and enterprises’ need for digital transformation, the use cases for virtual practice and training labs will continue to scale. The future of virtual labs seems brighter ever since it’s inception.