How Can Enterprises Tackle the IT Skills Shortage?

Here are some strategies that enterprises can implement to better staff, upskill, and improve their IT departments.

As big businesses increasingly invest in digital transformations, the need for competent IT services is greater than ever. Unfortunately, there’s a substantial talent shortage in the IT labor force. Companies are struggling to put together competent and fully-staffed teams to meet their growing IT needs. One of the root causes of this skills shortage is the IT gender gap. Another is simply that technology just moves too quickly. With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and WiFi 6, our digital demands are moving faster than professionals can keep up with.

When it comes to the competitive landscape of the enterprise, companies have no choice but to address this IT skills shortage — or risk falling prey to the competition. Or worse yet — to costly data breaches. With more data in the cloud than ever before, there’s more value for hackers to go after. Cyberthreats are growing, and although IT departments may have been prepared for the cyber-security attacks of 2016, they are, in many cases, unprepared for those of 2020.

As networks grow in complexity, and cybersecurity issues continue to proliferate, enterprises can lean on the following strategies to mitigate the IT skills shortage and gain a leg up on the competition.

Hire for Growth (if you can’t hire the skills, then teach them)

The talent gap in IT is a wide-ranging one. Cybersecurity is often one of the most pressing issues, but there are also substantive skills shortages in emerging areas like IoT. Therefore, when CIOs expand their IT teams, they need to think about the talent gap with a broad and forward-thinking perspective. In other words, they need to think not only about the skills they need today, but the skills they’ll need in two or three years down the line.

The IT skills shortage isn’t just about technical training credentials. It’s often about the ability of the workforce to use critical thinking to solve technical issues outside their main areas of expertise. What proves to be most effective is when IT teams partner their pre-existing knowledge with ideation and creative thinking methods. This combination improves success rates when teams are faced with new technical problems, even if they are understaffed or haven’t had specific training on those particular issues. As enterprises set out to expand their IT staffs, there are few tactics they should consider adopting.

Firstly, companies can seek to broaden the technical skills of their IT departments. You can foster more creative problem-solving with a team that carries a range of different skill sets and training backgrounds. This approach can promote innovative solutions to challenging technical issues.

If your IT roster is already filled, you can begin hosting experiential learning sessions at your workplace. There are various educational workshops businesses can lead their teams through, like simulations of technical problems or soft-skill training to improve communication. These tactics can help to close internal talent gaps while promoting your employees’ career growth without having to spend on new hiring.

Manage Network Complexity

As networks grow in size, cybersecurity measures must be scaled up, a reality which can pose a real challenge for understaffed IT departments. This is particularly true for large enterprises charged with managing increasingly complex network architectures.

One of the things enterprises can do to address these concerns while mitigating the impact of the industry-wide skills shortage is to simplify their networks wherever possible. One of the ways this can be done is to centralize network security policies across platforms — a relatively simple initiative that can result in significant time savings.

Another way to manage network complexity is to improve visibility. As of today, only 15% of network managers report that they are able to oversee cloud networking. Nearly 60% say that they need new monitoring tools for their recently adopted cloud services. This is alarming. Without a deep understanding of the topology of their network, IT teams will struggle to see the pathways and nodes in their systems when issues arise. One way to combat this lack of visibility is to invest in a WAN optimization controller, which can restore network visibility by streamlining application delivery across platforms and accelerate data compression.

Implement Network Automation

Many CIOs have begun investing in automation to make up for the talent gaps in the IT workforce. Automation can be helpful in matters of cybersecurity, where most tasks require tedious manual processes. For one, manual processes are prone to human error, which can lead to security breaches and further complications. There’s also the issue of time efficiency. IT workers spend 29% of their days dealing with unplanned security incidents. For perspective, that’s a total of 14 weeks out of the working year. Not only does this take time away from more impactful, high-level strategic tasks, it also introduces further opportunities for human error. If the potential to automate these tasks exists, it would be a waste of time for IT departments to spread themselves any thinner.

Some of the easiest ways to achieve network automation are with firewall protections and server decommissioning, but there are also more inventive services entering the market. Telemetry, machine learning, intent-driven networking, and local and global awareness can all limit human error and give IT teams the time they need to handle more pressing issues.

The Turn-key Solution

Supplementing large IT workforces with these creative solutions is nothing if not a daunting task. Hiring and training new IT teams takes time and significant capital expenditure. Many businesses might not have the resources or time to critically evaluate their network complexities or properly invest in automation solutions. Enterprises that need better IT support need solutions right now. This where Turn-key Technologies (TTI) can help.

TTI has three decades of experience helping businesses deploy and manage enterprise-grade networks that are as high-performing as they are secure. With an a la carte menu of managed services, we can help enterprises plug a wide range of skills gaps — right when they’re needed. The first step to a fruitful partnership is typically a comprehensive network assessment — we’ll do a top-to-bottom evaluation and deliver a full report on what you can do to shore up your network — and the team that supports it. Enterprises need IT help now more than ever, and there’s no better place to start than with TTI.

By Craig Badrick

May 10, 2019

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