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How Connext tackles the IT skills shortageFor those of you who follow my blogs, it should come as no surprise that my opinion regarding technology is that we adopt new technology quickly. But we're slow in saying goodbye to technology. Technology you introduce into your organization might have a longevity that surprises you. An example: COBOL (common business oriented language), developed in the 1960s, is still used in many large organizations, such as for financial transactions at banks.

New technology is all around us

Since COBOL was first launched, computations, storage and networking have exploded, and IT has undergone several paradigm shifts. We are all now familiar with the cloud, being the platform of choice for many deployments and developments. Reasons are the simplicity, the transparent payment model and the lack of barriers to deployment.

We see developments in the area of containers. I'm talking about Docker, of course, but also about Kubernetes and other things that will allow you to set up a scalable environment that can be on premise or even in the cloud, allowing you to even more quickly deploy your IT.

There are developments like GraphQL, a novel interface to data (sources). This allows you to query datasets in a different way. I can go on and on. Depending on your responsibility, there will be a list of technologies to watch (do you have a list already, if not get started). No matter if you are in integration, security, operations or any other IT area: there are new things on the horizon.

There is a constant stream of new technologies for you to look at, to assess, and, if they add value to you or your organization, to actually even deploy. But there’s a question looming…

Who will do it?

It is no secret that there is a shortage of qualified IT professionals. The number varies, but I’ve read about a shortage of 500.000 IT professionals in Europe. In the Netherlands, the shortage is estimated at tens of thousands of IT professionals . Looking for a Java developer? Good luck, they are hard to find. Recruiters are busy poaching.

With these new technologies, the skill gap shortage is even bigger. When you look at professionals whore are actively engaged in a piece of technology, you will notice that it resembles a Gaussian distribution, also known as the Bell Curve.

Bell Curves are of course well known for showing the distribution of things. Let's say we take a bell curve of people's height. You'll find a very small number of people who are quite short. There is a fairly small number of people who are quite tall. And there is a large group in the middle.

To explain the skills shortage, I use the Bell Curve as example.

The Bell Curve

When we look at professionals with skills in a particular technology over time, we see a similar setup. There is a shortage of developers who already have experience with the technology when they are just getting started.

When technology is adopted by organizations for deployment, you see the number of developers growing. And if the technology is phased out, the number of developers declines. Extreme specialists are even scarcer.

It’s similar with buildings. If you’re in the business of developing state-of-the-art LEED platinum rated buildings or, on the other hand in the business of conservation of monuments, you’ll rely on a small pool of specialists to hire. However, for mainstream building techniques, there are plenty of craftsmen to choose from, but the demand is also higher. In the Netherlands, try to have someone paint your house, they are already planning for next year Q2.

The above curve is just an example, it can be higher, lower, sides less steep or steeper, but this is the general idea.

There is a shortage both at the beginning and at the end and of course, depending on the popularity of the technology and given that we have a general shortage of IT professionals. There is also a large, large skills gap. So, it's as they would say, there’s no shortage of shortage. How do you deal with the shortage?

It depends

If you are what Gartner calls an A-type organization, you will be ahead of the curve as far as the deployment goes. This is what Gartner says in their glossary:

  • Type A enterprises are typically technically aggressive and well-funded and use IT to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Type B enterprises, which are in the majority, are mainstream IT users with adequate funding that use IT for productivity.
  • Type C enterprises are technologically conservative and risk-averse and seek to control IT costs.

The Bell Curve - type of enterprises

Each of these has its own requirements. Type A should look for partnerships with companies because knowledge and skills are not readily available. Partner with a knowledgeable vendor to build the skills and train the people.

Type B benefits from the growing demand for skills in that area, but is also confronted with the growing demand and therefore battles for resources. You can try hiring the skilled professionals (specialists) or contracting them from a vendor.

Type C is too late for the party and finds the number of skilled professionals diminishing, do they want to hire developers themselves or should they contract them from a vendor?

Note that this says nothing about the technology’s lifecycle or the time it will be in use. For Cobol, this curve would have a so-called long tail to the right. It has been in use for 50 years.

Get the skills you need

It really doesn’t matter if you are A, B or C. Each of these deploys technology for their own purpose and according to their own plan. Until now this blog has been pretty high level, we mentioned some technologies like Docker, Kubernetes et cetera, but didn’t mention areas like API Management. Now this is going to change. Yenlo knows about Enterprise Integration, API Management, and Identity and Access Management and we are the ideal partner for this skill set. Depending on your classification, there are a number of options for getting the skills you need. Many of the options are suitable for all three categories.

Let’s take a look at the skills first. If you want to acquire the skills, we can train your employees. We can supplement that with a number of support options (product support, operational support and development support) to get your employees up to speed. You can have a mixed team of Yenlo experts and your employees, work together for a limited time transferring the lead to you or work together on time and material. We can do the whole project for you as a turnkey solution.

What’s very exciting and can give you a flying start, is working with Connext, our integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solution. This is a hosted environment that will almost instantly get you up to speed and allows for record breaking deployments as times go.

Go get them

The choice is yours whether you want the experts in-house as your employees or contract them from us. Whether you use the Connext platform or host it yourself. As long as you are able to deploy the technology and add value to your business. It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there. And of course, to stay in the IT parlance, on time, on budget and on specs.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions with regards to the options that we offer.

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Published August 4, 2020

Ruben van der Zwan

As Co-Founder and CEO of Yenlo, I am an IT-visionair and from the first hour. I believe that digitalization enables companies to grow by creating new channels to reach their customers. Important in such a digitalization journey is to avoid lock-in’s by vendors, technology and budget. Therefore, I am a fan of an API-first, Open-Source first and Cloud-first strategy. Obviously Yenlo’s key-focus services are aligned with these key-pillars by combining WSO2 open source technology with a secure and professional cloud-solution: Connext. Our Integration-Platform-as-a-Service solution for medium and large enterprises. Want to learn more? Contact me or join conferences all around the world where I am a frequent speaker.

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