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Infrastructure skills shortage causing users problems

Infrastructure and organisation skills are changing and plenty of users are failing to keep up with the different demands being put on staff

A lack of skilled staff around infrastructure and operations is going to disrupt the vast majority of businesses over the next couple of years.

Gartner has signaled a major opportunity for technical channel partners that can help struggling customers trying to roll out digital transformation projects.

The vendor is warning that 75% of firms will experience visible business disruption by 2020 because of skill gaps.

The analyst house is forecasting a 5% drop in the number of IT specialist hires in the next 18 months and increasing pressure on those in-house people that remain to hold multiple roles.

One of the problems is that although it's fairly clear that the infrastructure and operational (I&O) skills of the past will not be required in the same way in the future most staff are not ready to deliver anything different.

"What made I&O leaders successful in the past is not what will make them thrive in the future," said Hank Marquis, research director at Gartner. "Instead of focusing on the 'what' of I&O jobs — such as technical knowledge, education and training — I&O leaders need to shift their focus to the 'how' — the behavioral competencies required."

In some ways IT departments can learn from the channel and move from being technology providers to business partners that can help shape the future destiny of the organisation.

Until businesses plug the emerging I&O skills gaps there is plenty of opportunity for channel partners to step in and remedy problems.

"Corporate digital business universities will eventually emerge to close the skills gap. Experience-based career paths with formal mentoring for and within I&O will become standard for individual development," said Marquis.

"In the meantime, I&O leaders should work hand-in-hand with HR to shift away from position-based development, develop a tactical skills gap analysis, and utilize tools and methods for improving I&O skills in-house," he added.

Echoing thoughts raised by Claranet yesterday, one of the main planks of advice for those beleaguered in the IT department was to use more automation to help with the heavy lifting.

Gartner is encouraging firms to look at tools like AI and virtual assistants to help deal with incoming enquiries from staff looking for help with their IT problems.

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