A research report from Quocirca has revealed a significant disconnect between the emergence of Northern Europe's service provider culture in businesses across the region and the availability of skilled individuals required to manage these 'always-on' networks.
The report, entitled 'In demand: the culture of online service provision', commissioned by Citrix, supports the view that a service provider culture is emerging amongst UK businesses, with two-thirds of organisations seeing themselves as an online service provider. More than half provide online B2B services, 42% provide services direct to customers, 38% to partners and 20% provide to all three of these categories.
In line with this trend, the demand for skilled individuals required to manage the networks and service the 24/7 generation is also on the increase. However, 39% of respondents stated they found it difficult to find and retain people with the right skills for the network configuration and management their organisation requires. An additional 26% said they struggle to retain workers with the necessary skill set.
With 35% of IT decision makers stating that 'no one touches our network without the relevant accreditations', finding the right people to service the 'always-on' generation seems to be one of the biggest problems when it comes to ensuring capable network and application platforms. 57% of companies with a service provision culture would pay more for candidates with advanced networking skills, and this figure was even higher for those that provided technology and comms services - 68%.
Bob Tarzey, analyst and director at Quocira, said: "On-demand applications are now fundamental for the majority of businesses across all sectors, and to provision and maintain these platforms they need to attract staff with the relevant skills. Supplier accreditations are seen as a valid way of measuring the skill levels of individual engineers and many will pay a premium for them. For those pursuing a career in IT, it is not just the prospect of a higher salary that should be attractive, but the chance to be part of the future if IT delivery rather than its past."
The primary concern for businesses designing and implementing applications is uptime (with nearly 90% of respondents stating constant uptime to users was important/essential). User access management and usability also ranked highly across Northern Europe as application priority areas.
In response to these expectations, 37% of large organisations use Application Delivery Controllers to manage their network and scale demand, and nearly half of those without an ADC plan to deploy one in the future. Looking at data for actual and planned deployment shows that 80% of service providers have or plan to deploy ADCs compared with just 43% of non-service providers. As such, the demand for qualified individuals to manage these growing networks will only increase further.
"It's clear the transition to a 24/7 online culture is placing new demands on organisations of all sizes," said Damian Saunders, director, Cloud Networking, Northern Europe at Citrix. "An enterprise network is becoming more than just infrastructure, it is evolving into a far more adaptable asset that has a role to play in the delivery of the services that flow through it.
"However, businesses need to firstly address the talent issue, ensuring they have the staff onboard with the right skills, before harnessing the network's potential as a tool for strategic growth by moving forward with more flexible and scalable technology."
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