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Brocade Global Study Reveals More Than Half of IT Teams Will Struggle Due to a Lack of the “Right” Skills That Business Demands in Next 12 Months

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by April 26, 2017 General

Brocade Global Study Reveals More Than Half of IT Teams Will Struggle Due to a Lack of the “Right” Skills That Business Demands in Next 12 Months

The research, which surveyed 630 IT leaders in the U.S., UK, France, Germany,
Australia, and Singapore, indicates that many organizations are at a tipping point,
as new technology demands are set to outstrip the skills supply. Organizations that
address this now through additional skills training will be in the strongest
position to ensure business growth and competitive advantage.

Overall, an encouraging 91 percent of global IT leaders acknowledge that IT
departments are currently recognized as very important or critical to innovation and
business growth. However, more than half (54 percent) predict they will struggle
with a lack of IT talent in 12 months. Contributing factors identified from the
research include skills shortages, prevalence of outdated skills, lack of commitment
to training at the corporate board level, and the rapidly changing technology
environment.

“Businesses are approaching the peak of IT strategic influence. Now is the moment
that IT teams feel they have the strongest opportunity to influence the
transformation of their organizations,” said Christine Heckart, chief marketing
officer and senior vice president of ecosystems, Brocade. However, with a rapidly
changing technology landscape and potential impact on international labor markets,
it is critical that IT receives the right training to further develop their skills
and business relevance.”

The research also found that skills planning had to be aligned with other areas of
business planning to avoid the risk of a technology skills deficit, where IT teams
are expected to deliver the benefits of technologies that they are ill-equipped to
implement.

Staff shortages and outdated skills are preventing ITDMs from delivering on current
business demands

Organizations are attempting to move their IT departments away from their
traditional roles, but the lack of skills and the time required to learn those
skills have held them back. IT decision makers (ITDM) believe this could be a major
contributor to their inability to meet business demands, putting organizations at
risk of falling behind their competitors and losing customers.

- Approximately one in four respondents in Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, and
the U.S. claim that they cannot deliver on current business demand due to staff
shortages. This number rises to 42 percent in the UK.

- Respondents claim that the lack of access to talent will prevent them from
implementing new technologies efficiently, lead to a decrease in employee
satisfaction, and result in the loss of market share.

The IT skills gap is only likely to get worse and organizations need to act now

The political landscape is also a contributing factor in the widening skills gap. As
market uncertainty intensifies in the next few years, it is more important than ever
for IT departments to remain agile and take advantage of new technologies.

- Ninety-two percent of those questioned had some level of concern about future hiring
of IT staff, while 54 percent were concerned about a lack of skilled talent to
choose from.

- Forty-three percent of global respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the current
political climate makes it difficult to hire employees with the right skills. In the
U.S. and Australia, the numbers were 52 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

- Even with the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit situation, EMEA respondents were
less concerned, with only 31 percent of UK ITDMs believing it presented a challenge
compared to 39 percent in Germany and 35 percent in France.

Training time and investment will prove to be business-critical

Training continues to be an issue as day-to-day IT maintenance tasks take priority.
For organizations to address the technical skills deficit, they first need to invest
time and money – or face the consequences.

- There is consistent demand globally to spend more time on increasing skills — from
15 percent of time that is currently spent on this to 22 percent.

- Respondents reported that insufficient budget (45 percent) and training time (45
percent) are constraining IT departments’ attempts to develop skills more than any
other factors. These factors rise to 60 percent and 50 percent respectively in
Australia but drop to 37 percent and 30 percent in Germany.

- Currently, only three hours are allocated per week for learning and skills
development. Respondents in Singapore average four hours of skills development per
week.

- Sixty-seven percent of respondents agree that the key to closing the skills gap
would be to spend more money on training.

IT professionals need to take control of their professional future

The research also showed that IT professionals at all levels must take increased
responsibility for their own professional destiny, embracing the opportunities
delivered by new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and all areas of
IoT from device management to security.

- Thirty-five percent of global respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their
organization’s IT team does not have the right skills to protect their jobs in the
future.

- When asked to identify the one skill that they see as critical to their future
career progression, cybersecurity was the most frequently cited, by 22 percent of
respondents globally.

- AI and IoT security tied for second as the most critical skill at 18 percent. While
AI was the most critical skill in France and Australia, IoT security was the most
valued skill in Germany.

AI could be a friend or foe

AI could revolutionize the IT skills that are required and the way that we work. AI
is likely to replace a number of IT roles and tasks, but this doesn’t mean the end
for the IT department. Employees need to have the right skills to be in a position
to work alongside AI and embrace its future impact, so that organizations can
unleash its full potential.

- When asked which current roles were already being replaced by AI, desktop support
(23 percent), data analyst (20 percent), software testers (17 percent), system
architects (14 percent), and network engineers (11 percent) topped the list.

- Within the next 10 years, these numbers are expected to increase: desktop support
(37 percent), data analyst (34 percent), software testers (33 percent), system
architects (31 percent), and network engineers (31 percent).

- AI will also impact the role of the CIO, with almost half of the global respondents
claiming increased focus from the business.

- Fifty-six percent of respondents believe that developing AI-related skills is key to
securing a role in the future.

Vital role of the board in ensuring long-term IT skills development

Organizations’ boards will often dictate whether employees have the time and
empowerment to develop their skills, but this is common at organizations that do not
have the right support. The boards also have to ensure that skills and training
improvements are aligned with other areas of business planning.

- Forty-four percent of respondents think that new skills acquisition is not seen as
being as valuable as it should be by the board. This rises to 59 percent in
Australia and 50 percent in the UK. The U.S. (42 percent), Germany (41 percent),
Singapore (40 percent), and France (34 percent) had slightly more positive results.

- Almost a fifth of global respondents think their boards view gaining knowledge and
skills as a cost to the business, rather than an asset. This rises to 35 percent in
Australia.

- However, the majority of respondents in France (63 percent) and Germany (62 percent)
see knowledge and skills growth as an asset.

- Despite respondents claiming that they plan approximately two years in advance for
most areas of the business, staffing and recruitment is still on average only
planned for a maximum of a year.

- This is creating a disconnect where organizations are attempting to address key IT
challenges with teams not as well equipped in terms of skills and experience as they
could be.

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