As another year comes close to an end, it’s a great time to reflect on previous years for a time of learning and reflection.
2018 marked another twelve months of tech-driven change and digital disruption – both domestically and worldwide. As its sphere ever-widens and increases in complexity, the IT industry continues to operate in a state of flux. From the phenomenal pace at which AI technology is growing and the increasing threat of cybercrime through to the rapidly evolving IT job market, no aspect of the sector remains untouched by change. But what do these changes mean for those working in the sector day-to-day? How will Australian IT professionals respond to these challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
But what do these changes mean for those working in the sector day-to-day? How will Australian IT professionals respond to these challenges and opportunities in the year ahead? DDLS’ report provides a snapshot of the opinions, concerns and predictions of a wide cross-section of IT workers, together with recommendations on how best to leverage the trends that will dominate in 2019 and beyond.
CHALLENGES IN THE YEAR AHEAD
The top priority for IT workers this year will be ensuring their own/their team’s skills are up-to-date, with over two thirds of respondents (68%) predicting that this will be their biggest challenge. Staying on top of new technologies and developments in the industry and protecting their organisation against cybercrime and data breaches round out the top three. Depending on their role, recruitment and retention will be a preoccupation for many. Overall, around 1 in 5 respondents expressed concerns about retaining staff in an increasingly competitive market, while more than 1 in 4 expect recruiting staff with the right mix of skills to be difficult. Not surprisingly, those directly responsible for hiring are the most concerned by this issue: 59% of IT Managers identified recruitment as a top 3 issue while 39% marked staff retention as another red flag. Budget and resource constraints was still listed as a factor for some, but the majority of respondents didn’t list this as a major concern, suggesting a subtle shift in priorities.
IT PROFESSIONALS’ TOP 3 CONCERNS
DDLS’ report asked the question: What do you expect your biggest challenges in the year ahead?
773 out 773 answered this multiple-choice question.
68% – Ensuring my skills/the skills of my team are up-to-date
66% – Staying on top of new technologies
52% – Protecting business systems against cybercrime and data breaches
39% – Managing budget and resource constraints
28% – Recruiting staff with the right skill set
23% – Complying with regulatory changes
22% – Retaining staff in an increasingly competitive market
RECRUITMENT, RETENTION AND THE WORKFORCE IN THE FUTURE
The future implications of scaling back training are significant, particularly when viewed through the lens of recruitment and retention. DDLS Technology Expert, Michael Clark, explains: “In IT, skills gaps become evident very quickly, and headhunting as a recruitment technique is very much on the rise. Similarly, the visibility of and access to candidates through LinkedIn makes poaching easier than ever. “In this highly competitive job market, organisations who don’t invest sufficiently in staff training are at the greatest risk of attrition and IT Managers are right to be concerned. Providing staff with the tools and skills to be able to progress their careers and do their jobs properly is central to engendering loyalty and ensuring job satisfaction.” The changing demographic of the workforce will further exacerbate this situation in the years to come. The age profile of IT workers is already changing, with Millennial and Generation Z workers (those born after 1981) accounting for over a third of all people employed in the IT industry globally in 20161 . This new generation, largely comprised of job-hopping digital natives, not only expect, but demand fulfilment from their careers and are motivated by the twin drivers of empowerment and enablement. What’s more, their expectations of technology are higher than their older cohorts; Millennials and Gen Z-ers are less likely to remain in an organisation that still operates on a legacy system, and will naturally gravitate towards workplaces that have already undergone a digital transformation.
IT’S GROWING SPHERE OF INFLUENCE
With organisations becoming more reliant on technology to create efficiencies, perform business-critical functions and enhance financial performance, perceptions of the IT industry are changing. Similarly, the personalisation of IT and its ubiquity in our daily lives is contributing to a new understanding of – and respect for – the industry. This sentiment is borne out by the survey results, in which the majority of IT professionals agreed that IT is becoming increasingly influential, and will become even more so in the year ahead. However, for a minority of IT workers, the changes in IT’s sphere of influence have yet to materialise. 1 in 10 say their department is still seen more as a business support function, and as such is not involved in their organisation’s leadership and direction.
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References: DDLS Report, Taking Australia’s IT Pulse: Trends, Challenges, & Opportunities in 2019