Explaining the shortage of IT professionals

As Singapore continues on its Smart Nation drive, it is set to face a massive shortage of IT professionals. It is reported that by 2017, Singapore may lack nearly 30,000 IT professionals. This talent crunch is partly due to the shortage of people with relevant skill sets, which could be attributed to the expanding role and responsibilities of IT in businesses.

In order to stay ahead of the digital era and evolving customer expectations, today’s IT teams have to lead strategic innovation. Salesforce recently conducted a global study to examine the fundamental shift underway in how CIOs and other IT leaders drive strategy and run their organizations. In this part of the world, 60% of the APAC top 1000 enterprises will have digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategy by the end of 2017, according to IDC.

With digital business transformation comes a fundamental change in the way leadership views, structures, and runs businesses. Let us examine these shifts across three key areas —business strategy, people, and technology – as discussed in the Salesforce State of IT report.

1. Digital Strategy Transformation

Successful IT teams must be proactive, aligned with customer needs, and on top of digital trends. They are looked upon as innovation leaders and digital experts. To keep pace with changing technology and customer behavior, business strategies must now be seamlessly knitted with digital strategies that address not only the web but also mobile, social and beyond. The movement toward a more customer-centric mindset in IT is reflected in what companies spend on. Majority of top IT teams are expanding focus on mobile and customer-facing apps. The digital journey is transforming the way customers get introduced to and engage with brands. Singaporean shoppers, for example, are forward-looking customers that embrace technology and openly shop from their mobile phones[1]. The reality is this - customers now interact with brands through multiple communication channels and devices. The role of CIOs is thus extended beyond managing technical operations, and now includes planning an all-round digital strategy that encompasses the entire customer journey. To address these demands, many companies have started employing Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) to manage comprehensive changes surrounding everything from updating how a company works to transforming its products and services to the digital platform.

2. Widening IT Skills Gap

As customer and employee expectations change, so do the necessary skills and talents needed to exceed them. There is a widening skills gap between demand and talent, compounded by changing budget needs. Despite the increase in skills upgrading programs like SkillsFuture, introduced by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), the growing skill gap will take time to close. As many as one-third of IT leaders, according to the State of IT report, struggle to keep skills current with emerging tech and trends, citing this as a top pain point. IT leaders work to bridge the divide by ramping up training and development.

Besides providing training programs, companies can also employ technology to bridge this widening gap. For instance, data analytics is one of the fields that demands for more IT professionals as it is critical to driving the company’s overall business strategy. With the shortage of talent in the data analytics sector, companies can invest in powerful, user-friendly data analytics tools that can capture and analyze large amounts of customer interactions, then translate them into real-time, actionable insights accessible across all channels at scale. These insights into customer buying patterns and trends, and how customers are using their products and services would then allow them to address customers’ needs in a proactive, personalized way.

3. Technology Priorities and Adoption

Technology is always changing, and customers and employees alike expect companies to keep up. Embracing new technologies is an equally important aspect of accelerating innovation, and IT leaders need to be in the know of the latest technologies to help manage workflow and customer expectations. New technologies like cloud services are providing time and budget relief for IT teams across the globe.

IT leaders across all performance levels list cloud migration as their top priority. With a move to the cloud, IT teams can build on top of platforms with established, secure foundations, and run business software applications, when users need reliable access to at any time, place and on any device. Businesses should also leverage technology to address the gaps in customer experience. Creating seamless, personalized customer experiences is vital to driving business growth in this Age of the Customer. Given the tight labor market in Singapore, businesses have been making good use of technology in their operations to allow their staff to focus more on service. Many food and beverage outlets have made use of technology to redesign work processes, such as through mobile ordering device and self-order kiosks. With the help of tech solutions that deliver real-time actionable insights, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their customers and the markets they operate in. This would then allow businesses to stay ahead of the curve with innovative solutions designed to drive customer retention and success.

Conclusion: Call to Action

IT needs to evolve to meet the demands of the digital era by creating customer-facing and employee apps that are easy to use, efficient, and mobile. These growing responsibilities and needs have resulted in a widening skills gap. Successful companies can overcome this gap with the cloud and emerging technologies, allowing them to innovate faster and drive businesses growth. IT teams today can ride through the digital revolution if they rethink traditional organizations and put customers first, invest in training and development and embrace emerging technologies wholeheartedly.