Where Are The Tech-led Solutions To The IT Industry’s Own Skills Gap?

By Emmanuel Méthivier, Business Program Director, Axway.

Like many industries, the technology sector is facing a significant and prolonged skills shortage. With a dearth of qualified candidates, training new hires to reduce the talent gap is costing business leaders not only money, but also their time as programs are being developed to address these growing concerns.

One of the major influencing factors on the employment landscape in recent years has been the impact of ‘The Great Resignation’. This term referred initially to major career changes that people made for a variety of reasons—to pursue a new vocation, start a new business, take early retirement, seek more purpose-fulfilling work, or to simply reduce overwork and stress.

But more recently, this situation has evolved into a different scenario, and today, organisations must also not only cope with the talent shortage caused by lack of candidate choice, but also the huge problems created when legacy staff move on. These people often embody company knowledge, experience, and cultural values that are extremely difficult to replace, particularly in the short term.

Alongside the growing skills shortage came a push from business leaders to undergo digital transformation strategies. For instance, companies have been investing heavily to bring on new and powerful software and hardware like the cloud, IoT devices, and a variety of APIs to help them introduce or scale-up automation to address this skills gap challenge.

Embracing new opportunities – Applying APIs

It goes without saying that effective recruitment hinges on finding the right personnel at the moment when they are needed. All this takes time, effort and quite often, significant financial outlay. But what if there were other options? Can businesses come up with fresh tech-led strategies to combat the talent exodus?

The current labour scarcity gives a chance for innovative thinking within businesses. This is crucial at a time when despite obvious economic challenges, UK unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since 1974.

Looking at APIs specifically, these are pieces of software that provide developers with a set of functions and procedures whereby one application is able access the data and features of other applications, services or operating systems.

In practical terms, the role of APIs is as a go-between for different software platforms, allowing two unrelated applications to interconnect, share data and functionality. As such, APIs represent one key area of technology innovation that is able to help reduce the skills gap, not least because of their

third-party capabilities, but also their ability to be used by non-technical employees across teams, companies, partners and clients.

This gives businesses a great chance to overcome the "great resignation" dilemma and simultaneously address today's and tomorrow's market demands. In practical terms, this means transitioning to the digital era and utilising a combination of cloud, SaaS, and API-enabled EDI and B2B integration solutions. According to a recent McKinsey & Co. study, there is a "$1 trillion opportunity" at stake, as more organisations implement cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality, blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

As a result, businesses are accelerating their plans to move operations to the cloud in order to save costs, modernise their B2B ecosystems, make data available to suppliers, boost productivity and expand their reach. Collectively, these technologies are helping organisations to directly address their current skills shortages or help retain top talent with more powerful and effective technologies. Yet all of this can take some time. The challenge is to work with specialists to support current key operations in an efficient manner.

B2B integration

As suppliers and partners move to the cloud, B2B integration – connecting an enterprise to all its customers, suppliers, financial institutions and regulatory bodies to quickly communicate with them – is becoming more complex. At the same time, IT leaders are being inundated with a wide variety of options, platforms and services to help them digitally transform their processes.

To inform decision-making and ensure organisations choose the right platform for their needs, there are some key questions to consider:

- Does current B2B integration support traditional EDI flows while also satisfying customers’ API-driven demands in today’s digital economy?

- Do existing systems work in tandem with the shift to the “Integration as a service” model?

- Does cloud-based B2B integration have the potential to reduce costs by 20, 30 or even 40%?

To address these challenges, enterprises are increasingly outsourcing their B2B integration services to vendors that can help provide end-to-end integration services, along with the knowledge and skills needed to do this effectively.

More enterprises today rely on a balanced mix of API and EDI integrations to support and enhance their data flow. EDI and API managed cloud processes create more business agility, while cloud adoption can help reduce EDI risks and quickly scale up key parts of the business. Whilst the long-term implications of the IT skills gap still remain to be seen, companies need to be utilising technology to help meet their needs across increasingly competitive markets.

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