If a Tech Talent Shortage is Inevitable, What Can CIOs Do?

Peter LaPierre
3 min read

If a Tech Talent Shortage is Inevitable, What Can CIOs Do?

Data from CIO (formerly IDG) suggests the global technology skills shortage hampers companies’ ability to thrive and grow. Beyond internal IT project delays and productivity issues, nearly one-quarter (24%) of U.S. respondents cited a lack of available IT/technology talent with legacy knowledge, which could impact customer churn.

“Top-of-mind technology challenges such as cybersecurity protection and moving the IT infrastructure into the future elevate the question that CIOs face more frequently than ever before: how are we going to find the technology talent needed to keep existing systems operational and also grow the business?” says Brian Slepko, EVP of Global Service Delivery at Rimini Street.

Slepko and Tom Schmidt, Digital Content Director at CIO Marketing Services discuss the research and the talent shortage in a webcast: 2022 IDG Study Reveals Business Impacts of IT Talent Shortage.

Excerpts from their conversation include:

The tight tech talent market is holding back innovation.

As technology modernization ramps back up post-COVID, many CIOs are looking at increasing full time employees by 15% or more to help drive digital acceleration. CIOs get it that business process transformation is a key ingredient for digital success. Yet the number of IT experts isn’t keeping up with the need for IT talent.

The pool of talent that understands the business and how technology enables it is where CIOs can win big. The issue is actually broader than finding enough tech talent. It’s finding tech experts that also understand the business.

“The technology skills shortage is acute, and many organizations say the remote/hybrid work model has worsened their ability to recruit and retain IT talent amid an already competitive market.”

Enterprises continue to operate older SAP and Oracle releases.

While cloud, AI, and machine learning may be some of the hottest topics in technology right now, 45% of the surveyed organizations are supporting older versions of SAP, Oracle, and PeopleSoft software even as they modernize.

“The tech talent drain is hitting support teams for these legacy deployments especially hard since many of the experts are being removed from the workforce due to retirement (as opposed to changing jobs),” Slepko says. “The shrinking pool of experts that remain in the workforce to support these systems portends a highly competitive market.”

A staffing imbalance is developing due to hiring focusing on new IT skills.

In the webcast, Schmidt notes that most organizations are focused on acquiring emerging skills, rather than retaining their existing knowledge base. While skills are necessary in all areas of IT, cybersecurity and cloud/multi-cloud skills are the highest priority for respondents over the next 12 months.

49% of respondents cite cybersecurity as the most critical skill to hire for in the next 12 months.

Recruiting these difficult-to-find (and likely costly) skills may eat into the enterprise software support budget and headcount. “There is always going to be a need to blend the new and old skill sets, not only technically but functionally as well,” Slepko says. “By functionally, I mean people that know the business.”

Legacy tech talent is critical to accelerating innovation.

Per Schmidt, more than half (55%) of survey respondents report it’s likely their organizations will shift resources from bespoke technology management to assist with other projects over the next 12 months. Although bespoke system talent is just as hard to find as digital talent, only 54% of respondent CIOs plan to outsource if they are unable to hire the talent they need for specific skill sets, making this a potential area where more value could be realized, and risk could be lowered through a more balanced staffing strategy.

A balanced talent strategy is critical to surviving the tech talent shortage.

If you don’t already have a talent strategy, develop one that balances the need for new and old IT/technology skills. Include non-technical skills to strengthen your hiring strategy. Also, include time and funds to train staff on existing legacy apps as well as emerging technologies. For a detailed review of the CIO tech talent study, see study highlights.

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Read: Tech Hiring Madness: The Elite 8 Skills to Recruit For

Watch: 2022 IDG Study Reveals Business Impacts of IT Talent Shortage

Solution: Shift Funds and Resources to Strategic Initiatives