How Oracle Customers View the Global Tech Talent Shortage

Brian Slepko
EVP, Global Service Delivery
4 min read
How Oracle Customers View the Global Tech Talent Shortage

Could it be that Oracle customers feel the pinch of the global tech talent shortage more than SAP customers do? A Rimini Street-sponsored report from CIO suggests that may be the case. Findings from the report conclude that:  

  • Nearly nine out of ten (86%) respondents reported concern about the challenge of recruiting and retaining technology talent with deep expertise regarding on-premises technology 
  • Oracle customers are more likely than SAP customers to cite difficulties in finding expertise (32% versus 17%) 
  • Nearly half (45%) of the respondents using Oracle applications are running on older versions (Oracle EBS 12.1/12.0/11.5.9 and/or PeopleSoft 9.1/9.0 or earlier)  

“Where we see the real challenge, from a staffing perspective, is on these older systems, like JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and EBS, where organizations are running stable releases. They don’t see the value of upgrading, but it’s getting harder and harder for them to maintain staff to keep them running,” says Frank Reneke, vice president of functional support services at Rimini Street. With over 20 years of experience in Oracle technology, he’s had a front-row seat to the talent curve for Oracle specialties over the years.  

But Reneke says it’s more complicated than that. He identifies the most in-demand Oracle skillsets as JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, EBS, Hyperion, and Siebel. “You must know more than just the application. You can’t just know PeopleSoft payroll, you have to know COBOL too, and you have to know the business,” says Reneke. And that’s a tall order in the current talent pool.  

From the report, he offers four key takeaways for Oracle licensees around managing tech talent gaps: 

There’s no end in sight 

Nearly half (45%) of respondents are supporting older software versions as available talent to support them is getting harder to find. You won’t be able to wait this one out. “It’s just going to get worse. It’s not something that’s going to get fixed. Finding someone who’s happy to keep supporting Oracle EBS, 12.1 when there’s a 12.2.9 out there, is hard. And the gap widens over time, even though 12.2.9 isn’t substantially different than 12.1,” says Reneke.   

And it’s a double-edged sword. “The more scarce these skills become, the more professionals can charge for them. When I first started implementing Oracle systems in the ’90s, we were charging up to $400 an hour. Then prices went through the roof around 2000. And in 2008, prices dropped through the floor during the economic turndown. Now, you see them going back up again because the people who have those skillsets have moved on to other things,” says Reneke.  

Focus on a long-term, balanced approach  

According to the CIO study, the top barriers to finding the right skills include candidates either prefer to work on newer technology (30%) or just don’t have legacy technology expertise (24%). “It’s getting harder and harder for organizations to maintain staff to keep them running. By normal human nature people just want to flock to something new,” says Reneke. As such, it’s important that organizations pursue a balanced approach to talent acquisition — one that focuses on both emerging skills and legacy skills.  

He points out that a balanced approach is based on a solid strategy. Without a defined roadmap, an organization is unable to predict the skills they might need in a year or two. Knowing this allows an organization to start recruiting or retraining for those skills today. Taking this proactive approach helps organizations avoid reactive situations that result in looking for instant hands on deck. This not only puts pressure on recruiting to quickly find niche expertise but could also mean paying a premium price for that expertise.  

Beware of quick fixes  

Often when businesses find themselves in reactive mode, desperately searching for a particular skillset, they turn to consultants and staff augmentation solutions. “You might pay two or three times more for staff augmentation or a consultant to run your system than you would for application management services (AMS) or managed services,” says Reneke.  

And it’s no surprise that organizations are willing to take such costly routes. Not having the right talent has real consequences. More than one-third of the CIO survey respondents have been impacted by project delays (37%) and/or productivity issues (36%) due to IT talent shortages. Nearly one out of four respondents (24%) even cited customer churn as a direct impact of talent gaps.  

Reneke recommends a managed services approach because it can offer more value to an organization. “Managed services could be a lot more valuable to the organization because it has many more skillsets built in. You’re not just getting a one person’s knowledge, you’re getting all the skillsets that go into supporting a JD Edwards system, for example” he says.  

How do we do it?  

Clients often come to us because they’ve lost a key Oracle resource with a skillset that’s hard to replace. “We have a stable group of engineers and low turnover,” says Reneke. The key to maintaining such a stable group of hard-to-find skillsets lies in talent strategy. By mixing our tenured engineers with engineers who are also experienced, but new to our team, both sides grow. Tenured engineers stay fresh on their skillsets and new hires get to grow their skillset. “We’ve set up certifications training to teach new engineers how the older systems work, and we have people who have worked with these systems for over 20 years doing the training,” says Reneke. The CIO study confirms that in-house training (62%) was the top tactic that CIOs plan to use to address enterprise software skills gaps.  

Read the report  

For more data and insights on how CIOs are managing enterprise software talent gaps, read the CIO report, 2022 IT Talent Requirements Call for Balanced Strategy.

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