Jen Bunch is the HR Manager at Green House Data. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Cloud computing has shaken up many IT roles. While daily tasks may not be dramatically different (depending on the IT team member in question) the general trend is an increased focus on hard cloud skills and soft business skills — in other words, discovering how to generate business value out of cloud systems, rather than simply making sure an application or piece of hardware is functioning properly.
We’ve discussed previously how cloud can be difficult for Accounting to classify. But even Human Resources has to adapt. Much has been made of the cloud skills gap as a challenge to hiring the right talent. A shortage of qualified applicants may be real, but if your HR team doesn’t change the actual job descriptions and roles for which they are hiring, they won’t find the skills they need, either.
Here’s how the cloud is changing IT team roles and responsibilities.
Automation and as-a-Service products aren’t actually causing many organizations to lay off their IT workers. On the contrary, IT skills remain in extremely high demand. It is more likely that your IT staff will transition their role slightly, either to adjust to the cloud platform and its various components, or to managing subscription services in terms of business value as it relates to Information Technology.
Network Engineers, Systems Administrators, and Applications teams might be shifted to Cloud Architects or Engineering and DevOps teams. Network Engineers are also a good fit to explore edge computing and wireless networking. Analysts are a natural fit for Big Data roles or Data Scientists. Solutions and Project Managers translate to Enterprise Architects, Cloud Service Administrators, and Cloud Analysts. Read more about each member of a complete cloud services team.
Of course, most companies will not move to 100% cloud computing any time soon, instead using a hybrid approach and maintaining on-premises systems. At the very least, you’ll always have some level of networking and hardware to manage. Legacy IT roles are valuable to keep on staff for the foreseeable future, but you may need less of them.
Finally, our own research has revealed that most companies are using at least some level of outsourcing to fill cloud skills gaps. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of an MSP or contract staff in order to meet your staff requirements – if anything it has become an industry standard.
Business unit leaders, C-level executives, and the HR team should convene to create training paths, career resources, and new job descriptions and roles centered around the shift to cloud systems and subscription management. Additionally, the move to DevOps practices must be considered in your hiring as it becomes more essential to the general workflow around cloud.
Like all education, developing the cloud skills your staff needs to succeed will take time and is best to pursue in stages. Start with encouraging technical still acquisition via online classes and testing. Most major cloud platforms offer online cloud academies. You can incentivize this learning by not only paying for coaches but offering bounties or rewards for passing certain tests within a given time frame.
Scout conferences and forums and offer to send key staff members. Conferences offer in-person learning experiences that might be a better way for some to learn than online or printed documentation or lab environments. Be careful not to leave anyone out. You never know where your next great talent may emerge. Besides, not all your staff will take advantage. It’s a good way to identify highly driven individuals while you’re at it.
Once you have a good selection of accredited team members, you want to work on building your cloud workflow and organization within your overall IT department. Immersive bootcamps, communities centered around your platform of choice, and the beginnings of your cloud migration will help inform the process and let you develop efficient cloud management. Start with a small subscription and identify easy migration targets. There’s no better way to learn than on the job.
You can improve your current IT team effectiveness and lay the groundwork for future technology adoption through deliberate approaches to hiring, role planning, and skills development. While organizational change can be stressful, your employees will soon learn that you’re looking out for their future, rather than looking to replace them with some automated cloud solution.