Businesses turning to IT services providers as skills shortages continue to deepen

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Research from Claranet has found that a shortage of in-house skills and internal IT resources are two of the most popular reasons businesses give for using IT services providers (ITSPs). For Claranet, the results confirm that ITSPs are playing a key role in plugging the technology skills gap, though the company has warned that businesses will need to select their partners carefully to achieve the desired results.

Vanson Bourne surveyed 900 IT leaders and decision makers across the six countries in which Claranet operates – the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Benelux. The research found that 36 per cent of European IT leaders choose to use Service Providers to access skills that are not available in-house. Over a third (36 per cent) also said that a shortage of in-house resources - likely linked to the shortage of in-house skills - was a factor in engaging third-party ITSPs.

The digital skills gap has become a cause for increasing concern amongst IT decision-makers over the last few years. In a recent survey, Harvey Nash talked to 3,352 CIOs and technology leaders across 82 countries, and found that 65 per cent of these were suffering from a technology skills shortage - the highest proportion since the recession, almost a decade ago. This figure is six per cent higher than in 2015, further revealing a deepening of the digital skills gap.

The quickening pace of technology makes it difficult to cultivate the in-house expertise needed to get ahead of the game. Claranet is seeing this play out with public cloud; while acceptance of public cloud is at an all-time high, businesses often lack the skills required to manage it, making the role of IT services providers critical.

Andy Wilton, CIO at Claranet, comments: "The deficit in IT skills means that businesses must be more selective about the types of skills they employ in-house and those that they choose to outsource. Organisations are competing for a small pool of IT talent, which requires making tough decisions about which exact skillsets are required within the organisation. Public cloud is particularly specialised and it can be hard to find an in-house generalist who possesses the advanced skillsets to deliver the required capabilities with confidence. But there's a strong case to suggest that internal IT teams shouldn't be managing servers or any sort of infrastructure at all, and instead they should plough their energies into app development. Those businesses that are winning in their markets are those that have amazing applications, so that's where the focus needs to be."

"The future of any European organisation that wants to insulate itself from the growing skills shortage and compete at the forefront of digital transformation lies in the ability to work with an IT services provider who can provide the pivotal IT skills needed. By doing so, companies will be able to access individuals with specialised skills on-demand and at a cheaper price."

"However, it's essential for organisations to find the right fit when it comes to their outsourcing arrangement. To an unprecedented degree, this choice and relationship will become critical to the healthy posture of any business. Ultimately, you need experts to help you architect the best possible solution for your applications. This will add more value to the business and mitigate technological stumbling blocks," Wilton concluded.

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