Top 4 technology challenges for businesses: Skills Shortage

June 07, 2018


Technology plays a key role in all businesses today. That’s why I’m sharing a series of articles to discuss the top four technology challenges that businesses face in 2018, and to provide practical solutions for each of them. In the first article, we talked about cybersecurity challenges. In this article, we’ll look at challenge #2: the technology skills shortage.

Across the country, companies are seeing a significant shortage of qualified candidates for key technology roles. The most pressing shortages are for proven, experienced technology leaders in high-demand specialty roles.

To be successful, a business can’t just hire more “techies;” they need tech-savvy business leaders that can quickly assess needs, leverage cloud services and new technology opportunities, chart an optimal course of action, and drive timely results. So how can your company best fill these roles and acquire the top talent?   

For years, companies have relied on traditional staffing approaches. This involves recruiters posting job ads, sorting through mountains of applications, conducting numerous interviews, and processing them through the lengthy hiring process. While this traditional recruiting process may be a fit for some roles, during a skills shortage it’s typically not the best approach.

In a competitive job market, agility is vital to your business. It’s a good idea to leverage new technology services and approaches to staffing, such as:   

Firms that provide the expertise, and tailor it to fit your needs and budget

For specialty roles

Companies looking for employees with high-demand and scarce skill sets are often best served by a firm that specializes in that area. A company should also evaluate whether the role merits a full-time employee, or if sourcing the expertise on an as-needed or fractional basis (set number of hours per month) better fits the need.

For example, a company determines they need a specialized Database Administrator to ensure their database is properly architected and maintained. But the workload isn’t enough for a full-time 40 hour/week role, and the position commands a premium salary due to the high market demand.  Such a role might be better served by a contracting with a service provider instead of hiring a full-time employee.

For leadership roles

Often, small to mid-sized companies realize that they need technology leadership beyond their in-house PC/network support technicians, but their budget and ongoing needs don’t justify a top, full-time Chief Information Officer, Chief Information Security Officer and/or other technology leadership roles. A technology leadership service from a firm that specializes in the role is a great solution. This approach provides the company with expertise from a seasoned, proven technology leader that is tailored to their needs and budget. They’ll also have expert assurance that they are taking the right course of action with their technology— all at a significantly lower cost than hiring a full-time employee.  

Cloud offerings and firms that provide the technology service

Should you hire employees to run your email system, or could you simply use a cloud email service that provides better reliability and performance than your internal email service? Should you hire a team of employees to install, maintain and support your ERP/CRM, or use a cloud ERP/CRM service that performs all those roles for you?  

For many technology functions, a cloud service is very compelling and highly recommended. Each company has unique needs, and you should carefully evaluate the options to find the best fit for your company.      

Cloud services can be a great option, but before your sign that cloud service contract, do your research. In addition to a legal review, make sure you also perform a proper technical review by engaging a seasoned, cloud technology expert. The cloud expert will help determine:

  • Whether the selected cloud service will truly meet your specific business needs
  • Potential gaps or costly surprises in the services that are included in the contract
  • Appropriate contract terms for the way your business will use the service

Make the adjustments to the terms before you sign the contract to ensure it’s the right technology fit and best value for your company. You don’t want to discover these issues after you sign a multi-year contract and are stuck with a costly oversight.   

Cloud service contracts are typically easy to start but can be difficult to exit. Make sure you understand all the details going into the arrangement, as well as the contract terms. Ensure you have a well thought-out exit plan so you can make a smooth, successful exit if and when the service is no longer the right fit.  

These alternative approaches for technology skills will serve your business in the short-term talent crunch, as well as provide a sustainable long-term solution. Compared to traditional staffing practices, they can be more affordable, more effective, and better tailored to fit your business needs.  

Mark Johnson

President of Xtrii, and Global Technology Advisor

Mark Johnson is a global technology advisor with more than 30 years of successful business results. His experience includes roles as a global Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and innovative, business leader for organizations ranging from $15 Billion+ and 100,000+ employees, to small, fast-paced, rapid-growth companies. Mark currently serves as President of Xtrii (, an executive-level, technology consulting firm that works with C-level executives to provide proven technology leaders that help them address their most pressing technology challenges and risks. He has worked with companies to achieve extraordinary success that is globally recognized for technology excellence, such as the 4-time repeat winner of the national award for the best Information Technology organization, the national “Innovator of the Year” award, and Microsoft’s “Global Technology Innovation” award. Mark has been featured in Bloomberg Business Week, Computerworld Magazine, CIO Magazine, and many other national publications. He is a frequent keynote speaker and technology advisor on how companies can best leverage technology for optimal business outcomes.
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