How to overcome the cloud-savvy IT talent shortage

Picture credit: "clouds", by "Pattys-photos", used under CC BY / Modified from original

Senior executives at large multinational enterprises are already demanding that their CIO has a plan in place to ensure that they can effectively procure public and private cloud services for their organization. In smaller companies, some IT managers are now expected to acquire the knowledge and skills to perform a similar role.

Are they prepared? To find out, let's review a current IT resource assessment.

According to the findings from a recent market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), European IT departments still need to make significant improvements before they have fully embraced cloud architectures and transformed themselves into hybrid cloud service providers.

When asked to evaluate their current readiness to execute on their cloud service brokering strategy -- where they become a trusted internal advisers to their Line of Business leaders -- European respondents admitted to unexpectedly low levels of confidence that they're ready.

As an example, 56 percent of European IT departments cannot find qualified staff to effectively support cloud projects. Moreover, 61 percent are struggling to up-skill their employees to effectively evaluate cloud service providers. And, 70 percent still need to learn how to make effective use of automation, self-service, and basic orchestration tools.

Why finding talent is still a major roadblock

If you assumed that -- based on this insight -- the skills shortfall is merely a European problem, you'd be mistaken. IDC interviewed IT and non-IT staff at director level or above in 1,109 organizations globally -- including 304 in Europe (100 in the U.K. and 102 in both France and Germany).

The IDC survey confirmed the depth and breadth of challenge -- like many of their counterparts, the vast majority of European IT departments still require a great deal of transformation and need to invest further in people, process, and technology.

"The use of cloud computing as an increasingly business-critical technology is quickly changing how companies and institutions evaluate, procure, and deploy IT assets," said Carla Arend, program director at IDC.

She believes that the effective use of cloud-related tools remains the biggest challenge for IT organizations, while accurately defining costs and implementing charge-back models is a struggle in the business and IT relationship.

According to IDC's assessment, spending on cloud services and the building blocks for cloud infrastructure has reached 25 percent growth in Europe over the past 12 months. But beyond the early-adopter segment, IDC says that deployments in the coming years could stall if IT buyers are not prepared to systematically tackle the known hurdles to a successful adoption.

Additional findings from the IDC study include:

  • IT organizations see themselves as Service Providers focused on business priorities. Almost half of the respondents have achieved this change in mindset, where IT departments have embraced the IT-as-a-service approach and are ready to negotiate service levels and serve their business users like an outside service provider. Only 5 percent of respondents do not have this major transformation as an area of focus.
  • Return on investment remains difficult to prove. Only around a third of European organizations are able to build a comprehensive business case for their cloud projects. Understanding all the implications, costs, and benefits of a transformational process like implementing cloud computing is tough, but without creating solid business cases it is hard to demonstrate the ultimate success of cloud projects.
  • Ability to use cloud to drive business innovation and competitive advantage. Just 41 percent use cloud to gain a business advantage, leaving 59 percent of European organizations not able to take cloud projects beyond the level of IT infrastructure projects. The real benefits of cloud projects will only be realized if they are used to drive business innovation and competitive advantage.

So, given that backdrop, how can companies solve the apparent cloud infrastructure and business innovation skills gap? One approach is to reach out to consulting and training organizations that have a proven track record of helping other legacy IT organizations evolve towards these 21st Century demands.

Clearly, there are likely a few highly-qualified candidates in every region of the world. In the European marketplace, Paris-based eNovance is an example of the high-caliber consulting talent that's available to create and deploy cloud infrastructures quickly and cost effectively -- plus manage a multitude of web applications on the largest public clouds.

Picture credit: Pattys-photos/Flickr

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JocaJunq
18 Sep 2014, 2:53 p.m.

Hi David, this is a world-wide problem.
I'm quite sure that the skilled cloud professionals shortage in Europe is also a problem in others part of the world. In Brazil we are in the early phase of the adoption, researchs points only about 25% of SMB and around 40% of the big companies have plans to enter with no critical applications until 2019. This is not a good scenario, but at least the Brazilian IT professionals and schools have time to be ready.

But, despite the economic scenario, one of the biggest problems we have in Brazil is to show to the business board that the technology is a investment and not a burden cost. And that the CIOs be more aware of the business than to take care of the company's data center.

With different connotations, the discourse of need for change is a constant. But, now, the changes are coming, in reality.

I'm sharing your post in LinkedIn.

Regards,

José Carlos Junqueira

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CrystalBedell
19 Sep 2014, 7:46 p.m.

Finding talent will become less and less of a roadblock as technology providers continue to make it their products easier to use. For example, a hybrid cloud platform built on the same technology used to virtualize the infrastructure means you can write, deploy and manage apps in the cloud the same way you do in the virtualized infrastructure. No new skills or processes are needed. - Crystal Bedell, http://bit.ly/1oRPxR3

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