New survey data published by INAP found that half of IT pros (49 percent) don’t believe “that the new talent entering the IT workforce is adequately prepared for the roles and responsibilities of today’s IT environment.”
It’s not just new talent that they believe needs more training, however.
Current IT pros also don’t feel adequately equipped for the increasingly complex world of modern IT; 71 percent agree they “could use more training on all of the different types of server and cloud infrastructure that we use and plan to use in the near future.”
One explanation, according to Jeff Atkinson, CIO of INAP, is that modern enterprise IT is more complex than ever.
“IT’s traditional function of equipping their organizations with the technology systems and tools they need to thrive has been augmented with a strategic role in driving digital transformation,” said Atkinson. “Given the fast, ever evolving pace of technology and its uses within the enterprise, it’s an enormous job for IT teams to just keep up with best practices for operating, maintaining and securing their software and systems—let alone drive innovation as a true partner to business units.”
The survey data indicates that despite a growing list of roles and responsibilities, IT professionals are eager to evolve on the job and stay ahead of the learning curve.
INAP prompted the 500 survey respondents to reflect on their roles in IT, asking them, “Throughout your time in IT, do you feel that you’ve had one singular focus, or do you think you’ve held many different ‘occupations’?”
Tellingly, 95 percent said that they’ve had more than one singular focus. Four in 10 said they’ve had more than five roles (including 13 percent who said that they’ve worn a different hat every single day they’ve worked in IT), and over half (53 percent) identified two to five roles.
With the rapid pace at which new technology, platforms and certifications emerge—not to mention the shift to multicloud and hybrid IT, which demands a wide range of expertise—it’s perhaps no wonder that many IT pros have continually experienced major shifts in their roles and responsibilities over time. (Case in point: AWS alone released 497 new features in Q4 2017.)
Given the fast clip at which new technology is emerging, what are IT pros doing to keep up even with time and resource constraints? The answer: a lot.
We asked IT pros how often they’re learning new skills, taking classes or otherwise refreshing their IT skill set. Nearly four in 10 are doing so on a monthly basis (37 percent) and one out of 10 on a weekly basis (11 percent). Three out of four are engaged in continued learning or training on at least an annual basis.
It’s clear that IT pros are extremely dedicated to keeping up with new skills and technology, certainly driven in part by necessity. It’s not surprising then that less than half of respondents (45 percent) believe that that their organization is taking full advantage of their experience and skill set.
The reason for the disconnect may lie in the fact that even as IT organizations are leading the charge in enterprise digital transformation, much of individual IT professionals’ time is still taken up by routine maintenance.
The skillsets that have come to define traditional enterprise IT are not likely to be the same skills that unlock the next level of the business function’ s evolution, according to Atkinson.
“Soft skills like emotional intelligence, innovativeness, business acumen and flexibility have become just as important as technical know-how,” he said. “They will only grow increasingly necessary for modern IT professionals as their departments become more aligned with the goals of the business.”
The IT pros we surveyed agree: 51 percent identified innovation and flexibility as the most important skills for new talent to have.
As IT shifts from an operational function to a strategic partner in digital transformation, the talent profile of the average IT worker is also likely to change.
To realize IT’s potential as a true center of innovation, IT pros are looking to develop and hone skills that aren’t just technical. In this way, the transformation of the IT organization must be driven by the transformation of the average IT worker.
The question then becomes: How can enterprises create the space needed for the growth and evolution of their professionals?
The data used in this article was derived from a survey of 500 IT professionals with data center, server and cloud infrastructure responsibilities who work at businesses and enterprises in the United States and Canada. The survey, commissioned by INAP and facilitated by Precision Sample, was conducted in Q4 2018 with a margin of error of 4.38%.