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Experts Blog: Think You Need to Win the IT Talent War? Think Again

By Larry Gentry, President and CEO, cStor


Our President and CEO, Larry Gentry, recently published this article in IT Business Edge. We’ve included the full article here for easy reference.


The tension between stability and agility is not new. IT vs. shadow IT, Ops vs. Dev, on-prem vs. cloud. It’s an age-old story. No matter what you call it, it’s a challenge to keep the lights green and enable the business to grow.

Four years ago, Gartner introduced the concept of Bimodal IT as a way to balance these needs. In a bimodal model, traditional IT focused on stability and efficiency, working in parallel with an agile organization focused on time-to-market and iterative application development in tight alignment with business units.

The bimodal IT template is not the answer for most enterprises today, but it does help illustrate the persistence of this concern for CIOs – the need to focus on both predictability and exploration.

Even though IT has always been asked to balance these two needs, the speed of new technology development and customer expectations have brought us to a juncture now where striking the balance is essential to the business.

Yet this business imperative comes at a time when talent shortages are at a 12-year high. It is incredibly difficult – today more than ever – for IT leaders to find (and afford) the talent they need to both keep the lights on and help business innovate. 65% of IT leaders report that a lack of skilled engineers is holding back their business strategies, according to the 2018 KPMG survey of CIOs. That’s the highest percentage recorded in the last 10 years.

Shaking off the recession

The legacy of the 2008 financial crisis is creating ongoing challenges for employers. Many companies cut tech talent more quickly and more deeply during the Great Recession than any other recession before it. And companies were slower to hire back that talent even after the economy began growing again.

As a result, the tech employees who remained were forced to be generalists, focusing on traditional IT competencies. At the same time, the introduction of new technologies and acceleration in tech capability and adoption has created a need for specifically skilled engineers. That’s the conundrum we find ourselves in.

CIOs are working hard to find another way. With employer demand for tech talent routinely outstripping supply, CIOs are becoming smarter at how they manage their resources. A new breed of outsourcing is increasingly being used as a skills enhancer in addition to a cost saver.

On-demand solutions for IT needs

When I talk about outsourcing, I’m not talking about sending development projects to India or spending half a million dollars a year on managed services. I’m talking about a new breed of IT service, one born out of the same economic necessity and technological capacity as consumer on-demand services – think Uber and Lyft, Instacart and Doordash, Airbnb and VRBO.

These on-demand services were a response to the economic uncertainty, labor market capacity, and technological innovation that all occurred around the time of the recession. And just like transportation, food delivery, and vacation rentals, IT is ripe for an on-demand solution.

Outsourcing as it’s traditionally thought of has its place, to be sure. Managed services has been called a “smarter way to invest IT dollars” and for some that is absolutely true. But for many organizations, a managed services contract is too rigid and too expensive.

In contrast, this new breed of IT outsourcing – call it on-demand IT or on-demand engineering – is a solution that, for a far lower cost than managed services, delivers just what the CIO needs:

  • On-demand IT allows you to keep the internal team running day-to-day operations and get an on-demand engineer with deep expertise to help onboard and optimize a new application or take on some other time-intensive project that will drive new value for the business.
  • Or vice versa. You might prefer to have an on-demand team take over patch updates, firmware updates, health checks, and other routine work. That allows your internal team to be more agile, focusing on implementing new technologies to drive the business’s competitive advantage.
  • In some models, you can option a bucket of time to call on a highly skilled engineer for help with any unexpected events throughout the year. Acquire a new company and need to integrate all their systems and data? You’ve got an on-demand engineer for that.

Driving business value

On-demand IT gives you access to the skills you need, when you need them. It’s the same principle that drives the growth of on-demand consumer services. As just one example, Uber brings in billions because people don’t want to drive, but neither do they want to hire a chauffeur. They just want to get where they’re going when they want to get there.

Bimodal IT never really took off because most enterprises can’t build two IT teams. On-demand IT gives CIOs the same benefits without the financial and logistical nightmares. If you use on-demand engineers to take over routine tasks, it frees up your internal team to work on projects aligned with key business priorities. It helps you avoid the common criticism from the business that “We can’t accomplish our goals because IT slows us down.”

For most companies, business strategy has become synonymous with IT strategy – and vice versa. IT is no longer a cost center, but rather a partner in driving efficiency, retaining customers, increasing engagement, and implementing new revenue streams. On-demand IT enables you to put that partnership into practice.

Critical time for CIOs

This is a critical moment for CIOs. Recent global research indicates that early enthusiasm for digital transformation has been dampened by difficulties encountered in its implementation. The challenge to create an aligned organization supporting the business vision is more difficult than originally anticipated.

But the power of technology across all industries is still a game-changer. Now, CIOs seeking a more agile approach to delivering IT services, needing to keep the lights green and innovate, have an on-demand model to help realize those promises.

Visit cstor.com/on-demand to learn more about on-demand IT as a way to balance day-to-day IT operations with business innovation.

Larry Gentry
About Larry Gentry
Larry Gentry is responsible for ensuring cStor provides its customers with innovative data center and cloud solutions for the healthcare, manufacturing, government, education, retail, insurance, utility and other industries. His business acumen and management expertise stem from years of senior level leadership and high-tech management experience with companies such as Kroger, Kohl’s department stores and Shopko. Larry attended Lewis and Clark College along with Mt. Hood Community College prior to beginning his management career and holds multiple industry certifications. Larry has been a member of the board of directors for the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association since 2009, where he currently serves as Vice-Chairman.

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