Cloud is now a business imperative, and we see many organizations taking a cloud-first approach to innovate faster and serve customers better. Increased agility, more cost savings and better competitive advantages are also amongst the most cited reasons for an organization’s transition to the cloud. However, there’s one area of concern the industry hasn’t been able to effectively address so far – bridging the cloud skills gap.
In Oracle’s Your Platform research, respondents from India cited lack of skills as one of the top three challenges they face when migrating to the cloud. Skills issues were also called out as issues around having the right capabilities for developing applications in the cloud, and around data management. The ability to find and retain cloud-savvy IT staff continues to be considered one of the key barriers to cloud adoption. No wonder, moving to the cloud is still deemed to be risky by some CIOs, but should it be?
The reality is that the bigger risk is not moving to the cloud, which is rapidly proving itself as easier to manage, maintain and secure than traditional IT environments. In particular, cloud services are vastly more secure that many on-premises alternatives, due to the fact that more time and money are spent on them by major cloud providers, and they’re continually kept patched and up-to-date as a result.
What we see from talking to CIOs across industries is that where skills gaps issues exist, they relate less to having specific cloud skills and centre more on mindset. So what are the gaps and how can companies seek to overcome them?
Think big – Infrastructure cloud services enable businesses to operate elastically, at a vastly increased scale. This gives the company an amazing opportunity to change the dynamics of how they operate. Instead of just migrating individual databases, think bigger, consolidating the various data sets you have around the business into a unified dataset. There are multiple benefits of this. At a base level, you can have more applications per server and manage them all as one, and with AI and machine learning becoming more prevalent, you can be prepared to take maximum use of these exciting emerging technologies NSE 0.33 % by preparing for it now by creating a single data asset.
Data orchestration – Businesses are increasingly seeking to become data-driven. IT teams need to stop looking at data as by - product of processes and instead regard it as profit opportunity. This means thinking about how business information can be turned into actionable insights that lead to customer engagement and profitable growth.
Advanced data management – Data is the new oil for businesses: a huge source of potential wealth if mined, refined and distributed well. A core skill for enterprise IT teams is, therefore, how to store, manage and transport data. This means extending skills beyond technology to include data governance and compliance capabilities that link to all jurisdictions within which a company trades. For instance, any organisation that does business in the EU needs to be aware of how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect how it protects the personal data of customers.
Any enterprise that’s serious about leveraging the cloud to innovate and grow needs to have these three skills entrenched in their IT teams. It is therefore vital that organisations go about building cloud-ready teams in the right way.
Hiring for the cloud era
Creating a team for the future will inevitably affect the hiring process. Rather than look for new employees from traditional, external sources, most likely direct competitors, CIOs should aim to recruit from cloud-native companies. These staff are used to handling data in the cloud and have the required cloud skills.
Once on board, there are two main options for how to make the most of this talent. Use the new hires to plug gaps and educate the rest of the team, or there’s also something to be said for building a completely new team that’s cloud-first by design. This approach can galvanise the business and kick-start innovation.
Don’t forget you already might have internal talent that has the potential to shine in a cloud world. Holding or attending ‘hackathons’ or offering existing staff the opportunity to volunteer to take part in new cloud projects could give you the chance to spot skills you didn’t know the team possessed.
Another thing to consider is that some of the team’s existing expertise can be transferred to the cloud. In some cases, new cloud services, in fact, mirror their on-premises counterparts, making the transfer of skills more feasible. There could be some initial resistance as people stay reluctant to diversify out of what they perceive as their areas of specialization, but once they see the ability to transfer existing skills and the relatively short learning curve, it should be easy to get buy-ins.
Retraining existing members of the staff is also critical. There are a range of options to help organisations upskill their IT teams through training; from government programmes to vendor academies, such as the Oracle Academy. The latter are useful for providing both the technical skill sets required and the necessary security and compliance training.
Protecting HR investments
Once an enterprise has upskilled its team, talent retention is important. This is to ensure that the business feels a positive benefit from its investment and that real change is given the time needed to take root.
Organisations should reward behaviours that are in line with cloud-enabled innovation and look at ways of motivating the workforce to experiment with your cloud technologies and fuel innovation – hackathons once again might have a role to play here. Rewarding cloud-first initiatives, recognizing successes and talking about champions, all play a crucial role. Cross collaboration can be the key.
Your competitive advantage
If enterprise IT teams can close the cloud skills gap, the rewards will be well worth the effort. The renewed, high-performing team will quickly demonstrate value to the C-suite and other key corporate stakeholders, while enabling a core competitive differentiator for the business.
Bridging the cloud skills gap is a prerequisite for your cloud success and, therefore, succeeding in the digital economy. Agree?