President and CEO of Ntirety, a global managed cloud services provider. I cover all things cloud computing, IoT, and innovation.
In part one of this series about the expanding cloud and IT talent shortage — “The Cloud Talent Drought Continues (And Is Even Larger Than You Thought)” — I explored the harsh realities of the skills gap, as many organizations remain unsure about how to address it. The digital era has created a plethora of projects, along with a deadline compression for CIOs. In addition, a recent CIO survey shows that 65% of respondents feel that hiring challenges are hurting them and their industry.
Lost opportunities continue to pile up, along with lost revenue and rising costs. So, what can CIOs do to manage this growing talent deficit?
A balanced, three-pronged solution is in order, taking into account serious investment in the training and retention of critical-skilled tech employees, automation, and a modern outsourced services strategy. This approach enables businesses to embrace the changing landscape and invest in their internal talent while simultaneously intelligently leveraging outside resources.
A new practice called “upskilling” — the process of teaching current employees new skills to minimize talent gaps — has become an increasingly critical solution for employers looking to boost the capabilities of their teams. With thousands of new product and feature releases per cloud platform emerging each year, tuning up and updating cloud skills is essential to employee success.
While these programs take time to set up, the industry is witnessing positive pushes to manage workloads and advance technologies in critical situations via training programs that aim to upskill existing talent. Another often overlooked benefit of upskilling is that it creates a positive culture of learning in the organization.
From the days of Henry Ford, automation remains an eternal companion to repetitive low-value tasks. Ford transformed the way automobiles were assembled, standardizing, and then later automating the entire process. The world of IT reached this inflection point with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI), with AI technology focusing on repeated actions and results, creating an opportunity for scalable and less people-intensive operations to take hold.
Automation and AI are tantalizing solutions for standardized tasks, although they are also crunched due to lack of talent. Industry reports speculate that there is a market demand for millions of AI professionals, while just a few hundred thousand individuals exist worldwide. As crazy as that disparity seems, it reflects a valid deficit, highlighting an opportunity for skilled AI and outsourced service providers to close task gaps.
Modern IT outsourcing offers a seamless extension of the internal IT team, contracting out projects to experienced providers that are better-equipped and up-to-date with skills supporting the newest IT technologies such as cybersecurity, infrastructure management, AI, and database management. To be trusted, third-party providers must have a thorough understanding of the expectations of non-tech based clients and should operate with customer-centricity, transparency, and trust. Aside from being adept with a broad spectrum of technologies, outsourced providers should also be prepared to transparently share risks with their clients, as this is the key ingredient to a successful partnership.
The enterprise is already doing some of the obvious, with basic training and efforts to retain current staff. However, the IT industry must continue to step up to the realities of talent shortages by rapidly expanding their training to include cloud technologies, while also investing in cloud automation and outsourcing critical IT skills to trusted cloud ecosystem partners.