Article written by Jared Reimer, Co-Founder and President of Cascadeo.
In a year marked by a considerable number of tech layoffs, demand for cloud expertise remains high. While some may think of this as merely a unique facet of the tech labor force, it’s really the result of a significant cloud skills gap within the industry.
Companies transitioning to cloud-native operations are finding themselves in tough situations to find high-skilled labor that can facilitate transitions to the cloud and the cybersecurity concerns surrounding this process. While security can be fortified with technology and process upgrades, human capital deficits aren’t easily patched.
For many seasoned IT professionals who’ve made their mark in the legacy system sphere, the rapid advancement of cloud technologies is overwhelming. These professionals often possess expertise that’s deeply rooted in traditional systems, which poses challenges for adapting to the more fluid, decentralized, and dynamic cloud paradigm. This divergence in skillsets sometimes culminates in inefficient cloud migrations and systems that end up mirroring the cumbersome structures of older data centers.
Companies facing this skills gap have a few options to explore:
First, they can engage in specialized hiring: Professionals who can claim genuine expertise in the cloud domain are acutely aware of their value in the current market. In turn, salary expectations are elevated, and companies must be prepared to pay premiums to secure top talent. Moreover, businesses often have to offer extensive benefits, continuous training opportunities, and even equity stakes in the company. There’s a ripple effect in play as well: other employees, noting the premium placed on cloud skills, might seek similar packages or opportunities for upskilling, potentially adding to overall labor costs.
Another option is employee upskilling. Investing in training existing employees is a long-term solution and continuous upskilling ensures that the company is growing with the latest tech trends rather than perennially chasing them. However, this isn’t without its pitfalls. Upskilling initiatives can be expensive, and there’s always the lurking threat of newly trained staff being lured away by competitors, which can make the initial investment seem futile.
Some companies have the option of turning to academic collaborations. These have long been a cornerstone of synergy between the professional world and educational institutions – creating direct pipelines to budding talent and invaluable insights from industry vanguards. Businesses can ensure a consistent supply of graduates, and the vast research potential within universities can be channeled to drive innovation in the cloud space. These collaborations also present an economically prudent training solution, as co-designed courses often prove less costly than exclusive corporate training.
Finally, companies can always choose the outsourcing route. Engaging with managed and professional service partners can serve as a stopgap to ensure companies don’t stumble in their digital transformation journeys due to a lack of internal expertise. Yet, any digital transformation is more profound than just skill acquisition or tech adoption – it necessitates a seismic shift in operations, a willingness to dismantle traditional IT silos, and adopting more integrated, holistic approaches like DevOps or DevSecOps.
One can’t ignore the rise of multi-cloud deployments either. With businesses often deploying applications and services across multiple cloud platforms, the need for continuous upskilling becomes even more pressing. Each platform, with its unique architecture and security protocols, demands a distinct set of skills.
Managed and professional service partners have emerged as a significant ally in this landscape. Beyond just providing technical expertise, they offer consultancy and consistent support, ensuring companies don’t stray off the transformation path. Their external vantage point often lends a fresh perspective to help identify potential pitfalls and opportunities that might otherwise be internally overlooked.
However, the stakes are high. Incorrect or half-baked strategies to address the cloud skills gap can have severe repercussions. They could range from botched cloud implementations – which are hefty financial drains – to more strategic missteps that cause companies to lose their competitive advantage in the tech-driven marketplace.
To truly harness the benefits of the cloud, businesses need a two-pronged approach. Tactically, they must act swiftly to fill immediate skill shortages to ensure their cloud transition isn’t stymied. Strategically, they need a long-term vision – one that looks beyond just hiring or short-term training. A vision that encompasses creating a culture of continuous learning, fostering industry-academia partnerships, and building collaborative ecosystems.
The paradox of tech layoffs juxtaposed with a soaring demand for cloud expertise underscores the relentless pace of technology. Addressing the cloud skills gap is not just a HR challenge, it’s a strategic imperative. A well-articulated and executed strategy can ensure businesses not only navigate this skills turbulence but also emerge stronger and ready to harness the myriad opportunities the cloud frontier offers. And if you need a place to start, it’s with Generative AI.
Generative AI is the biggest innovation and disruptor in our lifetimes. Cloud is the foundational underpinning EVERY company needs to have in place to adapt and seize the moment. A failure to adapt to the new world (post-AI) will kill many companies in the years ahead. Those who catch the wave will have a massive advantage; those who miss the wave risk being obliterated by it. Cloud is no longer an optional initiative – it is essential because generative AI is not something you can readily do in your own datacenter. The availability of hardware, intense capital requirements, very rare and specialized technical skills, and more, are all problems that will only continue to grow. Cloud and AI are joined at the hip. It’s as simple as that.