The new skills: Planning for a service orientated future

Chris Gabriel, CTO at Logicalis UK, assesses the extent to which CIOs’ medium term focus on software defined technologies (SDx) and desire to transform IT departments into internal service providers is changing the market for IT skills.

In a recent post about SDx adoption, my colleague Eugene Wolf discussed CIOs’ somewhat accelerated SDx adoption plans and, more broadly, their plans to reshape the IT department – creating a new kind of IT organisation capable of supporting businesses focused on buying IT services, rather than owning technology per se.

In this ‘service-defined’ future, he argued, IT departments will act more like service providers – they will focus on maintaining, integrating and provisioning a service portfolio that is absolutely in tune with business need.  Technologies and specialisms like SDx, IT services management, service integration, business analysis and policy management will come to the fore – but what about skills?

How will this new reality change CIOs’ focus when they recruit new staff members?

Eugene considered this back in June, and this year’s Optimal Services Study gives us further interesting insight.  It suggests that alongside and in support of their intention to transform IT departments, CIOs are keen to recruit a new breed of business-orientated IT professional - with the skills required to translate business needs into policy frameworks that can support extensive IT automation:

  • Just 34% of CIOs cite ‘technical skills’ as the top priority when recruiting IT staff
  • The remaining two thirds instead look first at business skills like communication, service management and business analysis, which are top priorities for 28%, 15% and 12% of CIOs respectively.

What’s more, two-thirds (65%) of CIOs are prepared to pay more for the skills required to make the most of SDx solutions – a quarter would pay 5-10% more, and a fifth (22%) would pay 10-20% more.

Indeed, all of the CIOs surveyed in some way recognised the transfer of focus from technology management to business service delivery – this desire to look beyond ‘pure’ technology skills, and pay a premium for business-aligned professionals is a reflection of that.

Of course, recruitment alone will not transform IT departments into service providers – not least because these new professionals are likely to be in short supply.  Rather the CIO operating as an internal service provider must also look to invest in the business skills of existing people and, where necessary, draw on specialist external support where required.

Tags SDx, Service Defined Enterprise, IT Trends, ITSM, SDN