The ManageForce Blog

The Skills Gap in Your IT Department (And How it Got There)

Posted by John Hughes | 3/7/17 12:39 PM

To say that the winds of change have transformed today’s IT department just doesn’t seem to quite cover the ongoing metamorphosis that mobile, cloud, big data, and the Internet of Things have brought about.

Lower costs, greater accessibility, faster processes, less hardware are just a sampling of the opportunities the new landscape presents, and the causes for all the rapid changes we are experiencing. And while benefiting just about every part of the corporate world, the speed of the alterations have left the IT department scrambling to keep up as technology outpaces the skills needed to satisfy its new demands. Yes, we’ve arrived at a skills gap.

Don’t panic. It’s not game over, it’s a game changer. However, it’s definitely not something you can ignore. In fact, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s recent “Global CEO Survey” found 73% of CEOs claim the skills gap is a “key concern.” And the truth is, if you’re not yet experiencing the resulting skills gap, you soon will. So, how did we get here? Let’s start at the beginning.

A Swift and Dynamic Technological Revolution

While change is a constant in life and in business, the most recent wave has been undeniably different from its predecessors. Veterans of the technology industry will recall the shift to enterprise applications (moving from client/server to browser-based applications) in the mid to late 90s. While groundbreaking, and a strong force affecting the market, this change was singular in nature.

Today, industry moving forces are coming at companies from all directions—Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, and Internet of Things—at an unprecedented pace. We’re seeing it on the business management side of things as the number of cloud-based ERP solutions grow exponentially with companies investing in NetSuite and JDE cloud solutions, and dropping the on-premise applications and databases of yore. Change is happening faster than ever before and it’s officially time to believe the hype.

Accelerated by Competition

Undoubtedly, these swift shifts have been driven by technology, but competitive pressures have compounded that speed as companies across industries do their best to one-up (or in some cases keep up) with those industry leaders.

While the Amazons, Netflixes, and Ubers of the world were upending retail, television, and transit respectively, Oracle, Workday, SalesForce, Microsoft, JD Edwards, and NetSuite were doing the same for enterprise applications. The corporate IT landscape changed virtually overnight as these competitors worked to outdo each other on their way to the cloud, simplifying cumbersome tasks and untethering them from the bulky datacenters that once were along the way.

These kinds of competitive scenarios played out across all industries, leveling the playing field in many ways as the cloud afforded smaller companies opportunities that were once out of reach. Of course, on the way to better tech emerged the need for new skills and requirements among those working with the technology that is driving these changes.

Adapting to Changing Roles

While benefiting just about every part of the corporate world, the speed of the alterations have left the IT department scrambling to keep up. Where once stood a system where a product (i.e. hardware & software) was built, delivered, and then IT served as admin in a support role, now stands a system where IT serves as an “architect” and an “orchestrator” (for lack of a better word), continually shaping this technology, and working in a devops capacity.

This switch from admin to architect/orchestrator was not a small one, and as a result roles that were once indispensable (i.e. the Windows server and desktop admins) have been cast to the periphery as secondary responsibilities at best and in most cases have become completely superfluous. These skills have been replaced by a desperate need for algorithm design; distributed systems; cloud roadmapping; machine learning; mobile development; NoSQL; Scala; data science; big data and more, and not enough resources to fill them. Thus, we’ve arrived at the current skills gap.

Of course all of that still leaves us with questions: Is there a skills gap in your organization’s IT department? Would you know how to spot one if there were? Here are four signs to look out for in your IT department:

  • A drop in productivity
  • A decrease in “hand raising”
  • An increase in trouble tickets
  • Innovation is at a standstill

The one thing you should not do, and we cannot stress this enough, is ignore it. It won’t go away, it will only get worse. You could cross-train your employees, but again this lands you at the question of resources. Do you have the time and resources to devote to this, when your IT team could be focusing on more vital business initiatives. With today’s fast-paced change, it makes strategic sense to bring in someone who can fully focus on your business-critical apps, but yet again there’s the question of cost. It’s in situations like this that adding a managed service provider can be an enormous value add for your team. For less than the cost of a full time employee you add a whole team of experts to your team without the hassle of training, time, and extra cost.

We’d love to explore how we can help you bridge that IT skill gap in your organization. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation today and start getting the most out of your business’ most critical investments: Schedule Your ManageForce Consultation

And learn more about how the cloud can boost your business growth in this complimentary white paper from Mint Jutras:

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Topics: IT Management, Cloud, Database, JD Edwards, NetSuite

Written by John Hughes


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