Is The Cloud Skills Gap A Problem?

A lack of talent and skills in the IT sector is a big problem for business. In fact, the digital skills gap is reported to be costing the UK alone £63bn in lost GDP.    By Chester Avey
 
This is a serious problem not just for the country as a whole but for the individual businesses that are suffering. While there has been a renewed effort to train up new staff and embrace the value of digital-savvy staff, there are issues that go much deeper. 
 
The fact is that it’s not just the digital skills gap that is the problem – it’s the fact that we are not keeping up with the fast pace of change and embracing relevant technologies. A real case in point is that of cloud technology.
 
Less than ten years ago, cloud computing was a relatively fringe technology with limited real-world use. But in 2019, it is estimated that 96 per cent of businesses use the cloud in one way or another. 
 
Ultimately, this has led to a shortage of specific skills that the technology demands. But given the importance of the cloud and how widely the technology is used – has the shortage of skills become a problem for your business?
 
The cloud is a huge benefit to businesses
The fact is that many businesses benefit enormously from utilising the cloud. It is a cost-effective solution that is perfectly suited to the modern business world. Some of the benefits include:
 
• Flexible costs – the cloud is typically far more flexible in terms of costs compared to traditional computing. This is mainly due to the fact that traditional in-house servers are required to be powerful enough to handle peak use, but then sit idle for most of the time. This means that you are effectively paying more for servers you aren’t using. On the cloud you only pay for what you need.
 
• Easily scalable – for the same reason that it is cost effective, the cloud is also far more scalable than in-house servers. You can expand and contract your cloud storage requirements as the market dictates, while there is a great deal of expense and management of infrastructure to make any changes to in-house server capacity.
 
• Management time is reduced – in-house servers require a great deal of management and maintenance from your IT team, which reduces their productivity on more valuable tasks for the business. 
 
How to overcome the cloud skills gap
It is clear, then, that the cloud skills shortage is a major problem for your business. Thankfully there are some steps that you can take to ensure that this problem does not interfere with your success and growth. 
 
• Provide staff with training – if you have an experienced IT team with a variety of skills but lack specific cloud experience then it may well be worth investing in a training programme to get them up to speed. Remember that investing in this training will reap the reward of having a team with skills that many of your competitors lack. 
 
• Choose a managed cloud provider – one of the most obvious ways to overcome a shortage of cloud skills in your business is to outsource. When selecting your cloud services, choose a managed provider. For example, if you are interested in Microsoft Azure, ensure that you are working with a supplier with Microsoft Certified engineers and can supply you with a fully managed service. Many operators can provide you with a managed service even if you haven’t used Azure before or you want to completely outsource the operation. 
 
• Recognise the vital nature of cloud solutions – one of the challenges in terms of the cloud is that businesses are not prepared to put in the correct level of investment. There is a shortage of talent in the industry as a whole which can make dealing with the problem expensive, but the cloud has become vital, making it a business-critical cost. 
 
• Retain your current staff – all of this should make it clear that you should be making an effort to retain the members of staff in your team with expertise in cloud computing. Be aware of their value to your team and the challenges (and expense) that you could face in replacing them. 
 
Chester Avey is an independent business consultant:                      Image: Nick Youngson
 
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