Lack Of Skillsets Hindering SMAC Growth

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 11, 2015


Despite investing in emerging technologies such as cloud computing, mobile, social and big data to keep pace with market growth and innovation, businesses are still struggling to get much benefit from these technologies. Reason is that, most organizations do not have the right level of skills and knowledge to achieve business value that derives from these technologies. And this is becoming a key challenge for companieslooking to gain a competitive edge.

For example, a survey by EMC reports that hybrid cloud adoption has grown by nine percent since 2013.  However, more than one third of respondents believe their organization doesn’t have the right level of skills and knowledge to achieve such business priorities. In other words, very few companies are keeping up with the speed and agility of hybrid cloud, owing to lack of skilled professionals.

Read more: Companies Should Address STEM, Digital Skill Gap

“Despite on-going efforts in broadening the accessibility of our cloud curriculum, we are learning from our customers and partners that many IT organizations are motivated, yet their existing knowledge and skills gaps are delaying or preventing the progress of their Cloud Transformation,” Tom Clansy, Vice President, EMC Education Services says in an interview. 

And this is not the case with cloud adoption alone. As more businesses showing an interest in investing in the SMAC stack - social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC), when it comes to its implementation, analysts see a wide skill gap in the industry. A PeopleStrong report released last year too suggests that it is not about the lack of job opportunities that is plaguing the market, but lack of availability of skilled candidates is causing the concern, especially in the IT department. 

The other areas where skill gap is a serious challenge is big data and analytics. Researchers at Gartner predict that 85 percent of Fortune 500 enterprises will be unable to effectively exploit data this year. Another study by TDWI Research found that 46 percent of businesses admitted to inadequate staffing or skill levels for big data analytics.

Udayan Bose, CEO of analytics solutions firm NetElixir states that the problem is not in finding people who are technically equipped, since a large number of tech graduates with coding skills pass out every year. The challenge is finding people who can conduct the coding from an analytical perspective – who will not only ensure that results are reliable but also relevant from a business perspective.

He believes management and engineering curriculums are still designed keeping in mind the technology and business trends of 90s. Digital marketing, analytics, e-commerce should be part of every technology and MBA curriculum to reduce this gap.

Read: Data pros, it’s time for a skill up with analytics!

According to a Randstad survey, job requirements have become very challenging with around 90 percent of the employees opining that job requirements will become even more demanding in the next 5 years, where technical skills alone would not be sufficient.

One potential answer to this shortage of skills would be to develop talent in-house, which is logical and entirely feasible, given the right supervision. If you give someone who is a good analyst the right access to a text analytics or graph analytics toolset, then with appropriate support they can become good at text or graph analytics. But much of the challenge is in finding the right people in the first place.

But EMC points out this in-house skill development is also a challenge – it requires an organization to have someone who already has the necessary expertise, plus the willingness and ability to impart that expertise in the right way This has led to some companies adopting a hybrid model, with some fully-skilled data scientists recruited from outside and others developed in-house, in order to be able to up-skill rapidly.

“SMAC technologies are collectively changing the way enterprises relate to their customers, interact with employees, and bring in products and services to market,” Rajesh Janey, President, India and SAARC EMC. It is clear, that in order to redefine their business, IT departments will need to continuously develop skillsets that will help them keep up with innovation, he said.

While EMC suggests outsourcing can be a good way for companies to close the skill gap, experts also point out that companies need to work more closely with education and training institutions to give job-seekers and students more experiential opportunities that can help them develop the skills employers want and need. Finally, it can be said that the industry, government and academia need to set an agenda to solve the talent supply-demand challenge if it is looking for SMAC and other emerging technologies to accelerate.