Managed services can help Canadian firms close IT skills gap


Almost six in 10 Canadian executives expect business conditions to improve in 2013, and 80 percent believe technology is important or very important to their success, according to a recent survey from IT industry association CompTIA. At the same time, many are struggling to find employees familiar with the most in-demand technologies. As companies look to implement solutions such as cloud computing, improved data storage and next-generation networking, leveraging the expertise of a managed IT services partner may be essential for success.


More than half of Canadian companies are experimenting with or already using cloud computing technologies, according to the survey. Other technology priorities include addressing cybersecurity, updating aging computers and software, modernizing data storage and backup and developing a mobility strategy. With these priorities in mind, many organizations may consider an expansion of their IT staff in the year ahead. However, finding suitable talent is a challenge. Ninety percent of executives noted that there was at least some level of IT skills gap in their organization.


“In many cases skills gaps are a natural part of the IT industry due to the speed of innovation,” said Terry Erdle, executive vice president of skills certification at CompTIA. “The demand for new technologies can get ahead of the supply of workers who are well trained and credentialed in those areas.”


Leveraging managed services

Companies may be able to close that skills gap by working with a managed services provider to develop and oversee networks, data storage and cloud services. Financial pressure, coupled with more sophisticated managed services offerings, is prompting many companies to consider outsourcing many IT functions rather than hiring new talent, Pace Harmon technology consultants Doug Carolus, Jonathan Shaw and Evan Schladow wrote in a Network World column.


“The potential benefits of implementing fully outsourced managed services include reduced cost of ownership (COO), access to external expertise/intellectual property, improved operational performance and abstracted management,” they explained. “A holistic outsourced model can also allow organizations to better allocate internal resources on strategic projects and core business activities.”


One technology that gives many organizations trouble is unified communications. While hosted UC technology is in high demand due to increasingly distributed corporate infrastructures, the skills to install and administer it are more limited. A 2012 Siemens study found that 78 percent of organizations struggle with “staff-related challenges” when adopting new UC tools. Adopting cloud services managed by an external provider can dramatically simplify the adoption process and make it easier for companies to handle the complexities of supporting different end-user devices, for instance, Nemertes Research vice president Irwin Lazar explained.


“Many companies are growing their use of managed services, and the number one service they use as part of a managed service approach is voice and UC,” he said, according to TechTarget. “Once most companies head down the UC road, they quickly realize they don’t have the skill set, staff or experience to manage it.”


As companies look to overcome skills gaps in UC, networking, data centre management, storage and other areas, a managed service provider such as FlexITy can offer valuable expertise. FlexITy’s experienced solutions architects can design custom solutions for any environment, and highly certified staff can continue to monitor and provide maintenance for a wide range of advanced solutions.