The IT staffing crunch: a man-made crisis

IT professionals are frustrated, IT employers are frustrated. Recognizing the true value of essential skills will increase corporate focus and professional satisfaction..
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

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.)

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