While we have already seen that talent shortages are creating headaches for human resources managers across the organization, one of the major consequent issues that emerged from recent Gartner research was that these talent shortages were having a major impact in the deployment and adoption of technologies, especially new and emerging technologies.
Barriers to New Technology Adoption
According to the 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap for Large Enterprises (paywall), executives see the talent shortage not just as a major hurdle to progressing organizational goals and business objectives, but it is also preventing many companies from adopting emerging technologies. The research, which is built on a peer-based view of the adoption plans of 111 emerging technologies from 437 IT global organizations over a 12- to 24-month time period, shows that talent shortage is the most significant adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies, compared with just 4% in 2020. A lack of talent availability was cited far more often than other barriers this year, such as implementation cost (29%) or security risk (7%).
Talent availability is also cited as a leading factor inhibiting adoption among all six technology domains included in the survey — compute infrastructure and platform services, network, security, digital workplace, IT automation and storage and database. In fact, IT executives cited talent availability as the main adoption risk factor for the majority of IT automation technologies (75%) and early half of digital workplace technologies (41%).
“The ongoing push toward remote work and the acceleration of hiring plans in 2021 has exacerbated IT talent scarcity, especially for sourcing skills that enable cloud and edge, automation and continuous delivery,” said Yinuo Geng, research vice president at Gartner, in the report.
Cybersecurity Adoption Technology
Take the example of security technology and even emerging security technology. According to Milford, Mass-based Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), the cybersecurity skills crisis continues on a downward, multi-year trend of bad to worse and has impacted more than half (57%) of organizations
In the recently published fifth annual global study of cybersecurity professionals by the (ISSA) and industry analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), security technology professionals only see the situation going from bad to worse.
Contained in the Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals 2021 and based on a survey of 489 cybersecurity professionals the top ramifications of the skills shortage include an increasing workload for the cybersecurity team (62%), unfilled open job requisitions (38%), and high burnout among staff (38%). In addition to this, 95% of respondents state the cybersecurity skills shortage and its associated impacts have not improved over the past few years and 44% say it has only gotten worse. Notably, the three most-often cited areas of significant cybersecurity skills shortages include cloud computing security, security analysis and investigations, and application security.
From a wider perspective, though, the impact on technology adoption is well established. Workato CIO, Carter Busse points out that while many managers talk about the future impact of skills shortage on technology deployment, the problem is not new. “This isn’t really a question of “will” the talent shortage impede adoption because it already has.
“As a CIO for a software vendor, I see this all the time with customers. But there is a silver lining. The good news is, this opens the door for CIOs to get creative in ways that they haven't been able to in recent years,” he said. “The driving force of low-code, no-code technology is expanding the horizons of who can build with new technologies and creating opportunities for IT teams to enable their business partners with these new tools.”
Ironically, he added, the talent shortage in some way is feeding into technical departments like IT becoming more of a strategic partner, because they are more collaborative with others in the business. He cites Workato's recent State of BT report, which found that 78% of BT professionals are comfortable with people out of IT building automations.
“Is the talent shortage an adoption barrier for technologies?” he asks. “Several years ago, I would have said yes. But more and more powerful technologies are making great strides in becoming accessible to less technical audiences. That will only continue as trends like AI and NLP expand."
Using What You Have
Vaclav Vincalek is a consultant CTO and works with start-ups and small enterprises. Unlike many others that are pessimistic about the talent shortage, he believes that the shortages should drive companies to be more creative and learn how to use what they have already more effectively. One of things that will have to change in order to enable technology developments is the way people are working. Together with adopting emerging technologies and working on digital transformation projects, the team structure and the processes have to change as well.
“Most organizations still spend too much money on maintenance and supporting operations and not enough on innovation. Hence the shortage of talent,” he said. “Before companies start hiring more people, they need to consider how repetitive tasks can be automated or eliminated.”
Reviewing operations and outsourcing certain functions will free up the time for the team to work on more interesting projects, where they are challenged more, can learn more and can provide higher value.
There is a talent shortage in the market — we see this pain every day — and the legacy tech stack that most organizations have is not helping the situation either, according to Charlie Newark-French, COO of New York City-based Hyperscience. Good talent, he pointed out, doesn’t like to be slowed down by old, hard to use technology. Good talent will simply go elsewhere — to a company with a more user friendly and productive tech stack. Outdated strategies and legacy technology significantly impact downstream decision-making, the bottom line and the employee and customer experience.
Modern technology can alleviate the burden talent shortages place on an organization. Certain technologies, like automation, have far-reaching capabilities that help employees work more efficiently and effectively, while easing mounting workloads, especially with manual, time-consuming processes.
Unfortunately, there is also a shortage of talent to roll out new technologies and re-engineer messy processes. This talent gap tends to be felt most acutely in the engineering market — there is just far more out there that could be automated than the current employee base of engineers could possibly automate.
“We can expect to see an acceleration of technology adoption, but only to a certain extent. The key for organizations will be to pick which processes they automate and improve with technology and who they partner with to achieve the desired results,” he said.
Know the Limitations
It is to know and understand what it is that technology cannot do. People are still far better at many jobs than a piece of software is, or will be for a very long time. Leaders must understand the future of work will be when people and technology work alongside each other — human-machine collaboration. Companies must prioritize digital transformation accordingly.
If we consider intelligent automation technology amid this talent shortage, no single task will be entirely completed by a machine or a human working in silos. Instead, every task will have a human and machine working on shared responsibilities.
“With technology taking on the role of 'helper' rather than replacement, human-machine collaboration will alleviate some of the talent shortage challenges,” he said.