The IT staffing crunch: a man-made crisis

The IT staffing crunch: a man-made crisis

Summary: IT professionals are frustrated, IT employers are frustrated. Recognizing the true value of essential skills will increase corporate focus and professional satisfaction..

TOPICS: IT Priorities

The IT staffing crunch doesn't have to be have to be as intensive as it is. Growing market sensibilities may shift the balance in favor of tech professionals --and better focus organizations on what is needed to succeed in the digital economy.


IT work is different than a decade ago, or even five years ago. Work performed by 10 workers and professionals now has fallen upon leaner staffs of two or three. Sure, there's more automation and sharing of services, but this doesn't seem to be lightening workloads. At the same time they are fighting these fires, technology people are being urged to get out in front of their busiesses and help lead the digital revolution.

Samuel Greengard, writing in CIO Insight, says many IT departments aren't ready for the challenges that lie ahead. "What's bothersome is that all this frenetic motion doesn't necessarily equal tangible results," he writes.  "The sad reality is that many organizations are out of sync and out of touch with IT resources and tools."

The bottom line is that IT contributes more directly to business success than ever before. A well-run digital business is one that understands the value of IT resources.

Greengard cites examples of IT gone astray: misused or underused collaboration tools, unfilled IT positions, and even expectations set to high on tech implementations -- mediocre-managed companies throwing in technology with hopes that tech alone will magically lift a company out of its doldrums. It isn't just IT workers who end up frustrated and feeling neglected -- customers ultimately feel it too.  

The problem, Greengard continues, is that today's organizations, in their cost-cutting frenzy, think that technology can completely replace people. (Not to mention outsourcing.) However, this isn't managed smartly, Greengard points out.

The frustration runs both ways. Employers are facing fierce competition for tech talent, and often have unfilled positions because they can't find, or are incapable of attracting the right talent. Some observers are calling for a market approach to hirinng tech talent, one which ostensibly would improve the fortunes of both sides. 

For example, in a recent interview in Yahoo, Tim Houlne, CEO of Working Solutions, a call-center provider with 5,000 virtual employees, and author, says more employees and organizations alike are embracing the coming wave of independent, virtual workforces. <it works out for professionals, too, to "monetize" their skills.

Along these lines, at least one company has developed an auction format for tech skills, "listing users' skills and expertise for companies to bid on," as reported by Tech Republic's Connor Forrest. As one tech pro who used a job auction platform put it: "Companies are searching for you, it really reverses the process of getting a new job."

As organizations seek to develop their digital capabilities to compete in a fierce global economy, they will keep asking IT pros for guidance and leadership. However, organizations need to learn to pay market rates in the skills market. 

(Photo; US Department of the Census.)

Topic: IT Priorities

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  • You are correct...called "cash for code"...

    So now US tech folks with virtual jobs end up competing with the Phillipines and other areas such as India and there go the gets the selection. In addition when it comes to developing for platforms we now have this "cash for code" incubator process too..developers can't pay rent on this and keep going, insurance companies use it to get cheap code. Not cheap developers but rather cheap in what they pay for it...Verizon does it too.
  • It would help if...

    Its not just the pay anymore. Its about corporate culture, work environment, flexibility, etc. Will my workspace be just another box in a cube farm? Is the office space bland? Can I get ergonomic raised work surface with good stools or chairs? Is there a lot of sunlight coming in? Can I wear t-shirts and jeans to work?

    Then there is can I work from home? Are my work hours flexible (I have meetings with project teams half the day but do I actually have to be around the office the rest of the day, can I finish up my work at night?). Is my work team leader a jerk? Etc.

    In the 90's is was all about the money but now people want a life and work is part of that life. You don't spend all those years in school just to be miserable at work. This is not pampering, this is just treating people less like cattle and more like human beings (well educated human beings I might add).
    Rann Xeroxx
  • A quote from recruiter email i got today...

    "Every company is going to ask what your current base is."; "I just got someone a 20k jump there, which is rare in this day and age." - till those are true, no employer has any right to complain: hire the skills you need for the price they worth, stop putting artifutial rules in...
    And while we at it - HR departments suck and if they dictate who and for how much you hire - i don't want to work for you.