Why the IT skills gap might help – not hurt – organisations


According to IDG’s 2015 State of the CIO survey, more than half of all enterprise CIOs expect challenges with hiring IT talent in the next year. Kevin McMahon, director of marketing, West IP Communications argues that instead of simply looking to fill skills gaps with kneejerk hires, using cloud services instead could provide IT departments with the capacity to focus more on strategic challenges.

ISAP: What are the key challenges enterprise CIOs are facing with hiring IT talent over the next year?
KM: What we are hearing from many of our clients is that they continue to be pressed to do more with less. Companies remain reluctant to add to overall headcount. So in the face of even normal rates of attrition, replacing sufficient numbers of qualified IT staffers is a challenge. This comes at a time when there is greater demand than ever for IT teams to a) deploy and support a dizzying number of applications and capabilities, b) address the challenges presented by ‘shadow IT’, and c) move IT from a support function to one which provides both strategic direction for the firm as well as a continuing stream of sources of competitive advantage.

ISAP: How can enterprises solve this problem?
KM: The key is to focus the team’s attention on areas of strategic importance, not on managing legacy infrastructure.
In most cases, shifting management of core IT infrastructure and services to a cloud solution will greatly reduce the day-to-day workload experienced by the team.  In the case of telecommunications, for example, large organisations will generate a daily stream of moves, adds, and changes as employees join, leave, or change locations in the organisation.  A cloud partner can resolve these sorts of tasks quickly. The right cloud partner will also take the lead with events that threaten to disrupt service, typically resolving the issues more quickly than the internal team could – because of expertise, experience, and the relationships already in place with other carriers and service providers.

ISAP: Does embracing cloud services actually create new challenges in terms of skills – that is, because it is an emerging area, is it going to be difficult to find people who have cloud expertise?
KM: Embracing cloud services won’t necessarily require new skill sets. That’s because the right partners can provide the client with a very customised experience, ranging from continued full involvement to a much more hands off approach in which information is continuously available about solution performance.  This can allow the IT team to remain fully aware of the operation without being required to intervene.  So a move to the cloud is often more about building partner relationships and developing a flow of information that leaves the client confident that systems are operating as they should. New technical skills won’t be required so much as managerial skills.

ISAP: What do you think a move towards more cloud services will enable for IT departments? How will it make it possible to be more strategic in their approach?
KM: Two main components here:

  1. Time. There’s precious little time to even think about strategic issues if you’re fighting fires and dealing with high administrative overhead as you manage a whole host of on-prem systems.  Cloud solutions help to mitigate that challenge in a major way.
  2. The right cloud services partner should be a partner in every sense of the word, for the long term. The best cloud services partners will bring a steady stream of new or enhanced solutions to the firm, provide insights into upcoming advancements that can be parlayed into improved processes or new methods of communication or collaboration, and work with the client to see full adoption of the solution across the time – maximising the value of the investment.

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