Is the Cloud Talent Shortage Holding You Back?

It’s no secret that technology is now at the heart of every company. Technologies such as cloud computing aren’t just driving IT transformation, they’re opening new doors for businesses and across entire industries.

However, it’s been well documented in various studies that businesses on a global scale are struggling to acquire the expertise they need to take advantage of disruptive technologies. In the U.S., demand is outstripping supply for workers with technology skills, thanks to a boom in start-ups and non-tech businesses looking for more technology workers than ever before.

Meanwhile, in the UK, uncertainty around the impact of Brexit could add further strain to an already tight jobs market. On the whole, the global pipeline of IT talent is coming under increasing pressure.

In addition to not having the talent on-hand to make use of technologies that could help them on a day-to-day basis, businesses may also be held back from taking advantage of new tools — particularly when it comes to the huge number of updates many of them need on a regular basis to remain effective for an organization’s operations.

Take Amazon Web Services, a public cloud platform that releases hundreds of new features and services every year. In a climate where businesses are at risk of being disrupted by challengers big and small, this presents an issue. What’s more, private cloud and its greater reliance on internal expertise isn’t immune from a dearth of skills — given the need to revise and update operational architectures constantly.

So, how can businesses access the expertise required and future-proof to meet these challenges and more? Below are some tips on how to ensure your business can prepare itself when it comes to present and future skills requirements.

Conduct a talent audit

It’s one thing to have the right technology available, but without the right expertise to put it to use, a business will never be able to reach its full potential. To build a clear picture, a talent audit can be a useful exercise. It will give businesses a better idea of the expertise they hold and by overlaying this with an audit of the skills they need, it will show them where the gaps are.

If there are employees with skills that aren’t being used, could they be trained to help close some of the gaps elsewhere? Or could these unused skills be tapped and used to help find a new niche that the business can go after?

Until a company knows the difference between the talent it has and the talent it needs, it’s impossible to understand the extent of the gap it faces. Businesses can then rank the skills they need, and work out which ones are the high priority gaps to fill. While this may not help them with recruiting talent from outside the organization, it does show where skills are being wasted and who the top candidates for training are.

Look to the future

One of the major challenges facing the education system is that it must prepare students for jobs that may not exist yet. Many students are leaving school without developing the skill set for roles that may be available.

One solution to this problem is training on the job in the form of internships and a strong co-learning environment — this is a model which organizations in the U.S. are particularly accustomed to, and which Rackspace itself offers through a dedicated intern program.

What’s more, governments around the world are putting more focus on similar programs, and are providing benefits to companies that offer them. The UK has a long tradition of this type of formal training in a large number of sectors, IT being no different. Whichever model they choose when it comes to developing expertise, businesses can rest assured they’ll be able to grow the exact talent they need — workers with the skills wanted who have been shaped to the company’s culture.

Of course, these programs require investment from businesses, both in terms of the training required and time needed to provide it. But internships and apprenticeships can bring huge benefits. As well as building the exact skillset a company needs, they have also been shown to increase staff loyalty and retention, as well as increase a company’s bottom line (source: UK government).

As well as preparing new candidates to enter the industry, organizations need to look at providing developmental opportunities for existing staff members too. As technology is changing at a pace previously unseen, businesses must encourage the ongoing education of their existing IT staff and give them the support they need to embrace and master the application of new technologies within the business. After all, many may not have updated their skills for some time, meaning they may be behind the curve when it comes to a business’s pressing cloud and IT requirements.

Find a partner to help

For many businesses, it’s not cost effective to recruit and retain the talent needed to manage their technology, let alone the growth in cloud computing. And, with RightScale revealing that 85 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, keeping track of new tools is difficult, especially when the cloud isn’t part of an organization’s core business.

One solution is for businesses to find a partner that specializes in the services a business needs and have them manage it on their behalf. Rather than seeing this as simply outsourcing, organizations should look to the value they can get from expert partners, by working closely with them. For example, they can work with them to optimize the services they have access to, or to find ways they can fuel innovation within their business. The organization can then focus on what it does best, while the partner uses its expertise to keep everything else running.

Want to find out more? Check out this video, which offers further detail on the cloud talent shortage. And visit Rackspace to find out more about the ways we’re helping businesses succeed with the cloud.

John Engates joined Rackspace in August 2000, just a year after the company was founded, as Vice President of Operations, managing the datacenter operations and customer-service teams. Two years later, when Rackspace decided to add new services for larger enterprise customers, John created and helped develop the Intensive Hosting business unit. John played an active role in the evolution and evangelism of Rackspace’s cloud-computing strategy and cloud products. John met frequently with customers to hear about their needs and concerns, and to discuss Rackspace’s vision for the future of cloud computing. John's final positions was as the company’s Chief Evangelist. John is also an internationally recognized cloud computing expert and a sought-after speaker at technology conferences, including CA World, the Goldman Sachs Techtonics Conference and Cloud Expo. He speaks on the future of cloud computing, enterprise cloud adoption, data center efficiency, green data center best practices, and more. Prior to joining Rackspace, John was a founder and General Manager at Internet Direct, one of the original Internet service providers in Texas. John is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and holds a B.B.A. in Accounting.

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