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Today’s global business landscape remains as competitive as ever, and the need to deliver superior customer experiences remains a priority for businesses across all industries. To survive, many companies are adopting cloud architectures and technologies to ensure applications meet the demands of modern consumers.
However, organizations often struggle to advance their digital transformation efforts because they lack the technical skills needed to implement and manage new cloud-based technologies. And unfortunately, the shortage of cloud professionals is a critical problem with no short-term solution, even though organizations need to migrate to the cloud immediately. According to a recent Gartner survey, IT leaders see talent shortages as the top barrier to adoption of 64% of the new technologies that enable innovation.
Indeed, there are moves to close the skills gap — with academic institutions and large corporations training employees in the technical skills needed to fully embrace and reap the benefits of the cloud. For example, Google Cloud is committed to training more than 40 million people in modern cloud technologies. However, these training initiatives are long-term solutions that are not helping organizations today. For organizations looking to continue their cloud journey despite the lack of cloud expertise and increasingly complex and distributed cloud architectures, there are strategic steps they can take to bridge the growing gap.
Cloud-enabled business opportunities and the impact of delayed cloud adoption
The cloud enables companies to future-proof their applications, optimize ROI and nurture brand loyalty by ensuring low latency and service availability. Hybrid, multicloud, and edge environments enable organizations to move data and compute closer to where it’s being used, enabling faster, smarter, and more resilient applications. And customers expect their applications to be more secure, available, and perform better wherever they are — — which is why the cloud and edge are so appealing to businesses and why cloud deployments are a top priority for IT leaders (Gartner).
Cloud-based technologies that enable predictive analytics are critical as customer expectations of the experience increase and data expands at the current pace (by 2029, over 15 billion IoT devices will be connected to enterprise databases). And with data and analytics being key differentiators, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2022, 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to the cloud. All of these activities require technical know-how for implementation and maintenance.
In view of the shortage of skilled workers, the digital transformation projects of many companies are slowed down — they often come to a standstill. In fact, hiring managers had vacancies for over 300,000 US-based DevOps positions last year. And organizations struggle to recruit qualified professionals for these positions. Those who don’t adapt to the demands of our cloud-enabled world will miss opportunities to provide customers with new, innovative, and dynamic online experiences — translating into missed ROI and new revenue streams.
Developers lead innovation, but are they ready for the skills shortage?
We conducted a survey of digital architects and found that the pressure they face has more than doubled since the pandemic. Almost half are currently under high or extremely high pressure to deliver modernization projects.
Enterprise technology stacks are becoming increasingly complex and evolving as new technologies are introduced that aim to accelerate and simplify application development (such as microservices). Developers are already widespread and need to adapt to the cloud-based needs of today’s businesses.
Until organizations are able to find enough skilled workers, developers must learn how to manage, deploy, and ensure interoperability of edge, container, AI, security, and other technologies. It’s also important to note that they need to understand when and how to refactor applications and manage multicloud technologies, while knowing how to implement and manage cloud-delivered versus on-premises applications (skills differ enormous).
How companies can successfully address the cloud skills gap
Organizations can drive their digital transformation despite the cloud talent shortage by considering technical solutions that simplify cloud migration and building on existing skills, investing in employee training opportunities (without putting more work on them) and a culture of transparency and encourage collaboration.
First, new solutions must be simple and flexible enough to be adopted seamlessly. For example, look for next-generation cloud-based technologies (such as databases) that enable developers to use the languages, frameworks, and technologies they are already familiar with. This is important as many developers have skills rooted in legacy technologies and on-premises environments. A great way to ease the transition to the cloud is to invest in tools that require minimal training. Technologies that enable developers to leverage languages already built into the capabilities of today’s developers, such as B. SQL, can make cloud adoption less daunting.
Next, organizations should train their employees in the skills needed to implement and sustain cloud migration – without adding additional stress/work for DevOps. A study conducted by the Linux Foundation found that more than half of companies prioritize investing in employee training and networking opportunities, but with 66% of developers wanting more employer-sponsored training opportunities to help them succeed, it is advisable that more companies invest further in training.
Finally, organizations should foster a culture of learning, collaboration and transparency to ensure employees feel comfortable sharing what is working and what could be improved. Managers could encourage this, for example, by initiating regular one-on-one meetings with team members to ensure their needs are being met, getting feedback on current processes, and better understanding their workload to avoid burnout.
Even if these suggestions do not lead to immediate results, they can be implemented quickly in the short term.
Progress amid lack of cloud capabilities
For many companies, digital transformation is an existential necessity and they need to keep moving forward in their cloud journey despite the lack of cloud skills talent. And while there are macro efforts to close the skills gap, those efforts often don’t help companies in the short term. However, companies can still thrive if they focus on adopting the right technologies, encourage ongoing training, and nurture a culture that celebrates collaboration, honesty, and transparency.
Rahul Pradhan is VP of Cloud Products, Engineering and Operations at Couchbase.
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