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Over half of organisations in the Middle East plan to reduce the amount of money they spend on IT staff in 2017, despite the need for new skills.
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While only 17% of IT decision-makers surveyed by Computer Weekly/TechTarget expect overall IT budgets to be lower in 2017 than in 2016, a significant 53% expect a drop in the budget allocated to IT staff.
With organisations adopting the latest technologies, IT leaders in the Middle East will therefore face a challenge to gain access to new skills while keeping IT staff costs down. For example, 24% are planning a big data initiative and 21% will have some focus on internet of things (IoT) technology, both of which require specific expertise.
When it comes to big data, IDC analyst Megha Kumar told Computer weekly in November 2016 that Saudi Arabian organisations need to nurture roles such as data analysts and data scientists, who are able to understand and make decisions based on the analysis of big data.
There is also a skills shortage in the Middle East in areas such as virtualisation, with a need to improve education and understanding where virtualisation and mobility are concerned.
Middle East CIOs will need to free up budget for the latest technologies by cutting IT staff costs in other areas.
One possibility is IT automation, which is already a priority in the Middle East. The research revealed that this is the most planned broad strategy for IT decision-makers in the Middle East, with 43% planning initiatives around this in 2017. This will reduce the need for staff to carry out repetitive tasks and free up budget to recruit people with the required skills.