Enterprises are under immense pressure to adopt cloud technologies to counterbalance the impediments caused by the pandemic. The result is a growing deficit of cloud skills and a talent war.

According to Gartner, “insufficient cloud IaaS skills will delay half of enterprise IT organizations’ migration to the cloud by two years or more” through next year. And, according to Logicworks’s Challenges in Cloud Transformation survey, the IT talent shortage is a leading corporate concern: 86% of respondents believe it will continue to slow down cloud projects.

To help solve these challenges, businesses need to undertake a SWOT analysis — Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats — to understand their cloud talent capacity and capabilities and then use that analysis for upskilling and reskilling programs. In addition, businesses need to identify needs for additional experts, which of their current talent is at risk and which talent is not inclined to learn the new skills for needed tech.

Six Priority Cloud Skills

The demand for cloud professionals is skyrocketing. Businesses looking to transition to the cloud need to know the skill areas in high demand and to hire for the right fits to maximize their investment. Here are a few skills businesses should be investing in:

1. Cloud Security And Compliance.

Cybersecurity, data protection and compliance risk remain the second most significant barrier to cloud adoption, and the cloud security skills shortage has affected hiring for these roles. Enterprises should adopt a “move security to the left” strategy and onboard traditional infrastructure by hiring SecOps professionals with native premise security skills.

2. Machine Learning (ML) And Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Businesses will rely heavily on the cloud’s AI and ML capabilities. Businesses need data science professionals with domain experience to be successful in this transformative journey.

3. Multi-Cloud Deployment And Migration.

Most businesses are adopting multi-cloud strategies for better disaster recovery, portability, regulatory compliance and to offset vendor lock-in. They need professionals who have deep expertise in multi-cloud platforms and architectures.

4. PaaS And Cloud-Native Architecture.

Find cloud professionals competent in platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and cloud-native architecture, which will enable organizations to scale dynamically without worrying about maintaining basic infrastructure to create high-value applications.

5. Chaos Engineering And DevSecOps.

Resilience is now more paramount than ever. Having a “safe and controlled” experimentation environment will help withstand turbulence, find weaknesses and build a learning culture.

6. Cloud Optimization And FinOps.

By not adopting cloud technologies, businesses may face a cost of lost opportunity. However, it is equally important to optimize control over cloud spend and continually refine cloud utilization by building skills around cloud optimization and FinOps.

Mantras To Overcome The Cloud Skills Talent War

Every business is looking for cloud talent. Here are eleven measures you can take to help ensure you have the right talent in place.

1. Enable leadership for a cloud-first mindset.

The lack of a cloud-first mindset among leaders is often the most significant issue. Companies should enable their board and top leadership to define their cloud strategy and embrace decisions that reduce technology debt.

2. Establish CCoE.

Given the evolving nature of the cloud, Central Cloud CoE (CCoE) is the best way to address the cloud talent shortage and gain better cloud governance, standardization and accelerated adoption.

3. Focus on tech intensity and raise technology quotient.

Adopting the latest technologies and integrating them to build your unique digital capabilities is a competitive advantage. Skills and knowledge are the new currency.

Organizations should invest in building systems of knowledge and learning to provide the right culture for knowledge sharing and learning with tailored plans and the right incentives.

4. Establish cloud innovation hackathons with gamification.

With the right incentives, gamification and hackathons drive motivation, experimentation with purpose and facilitating peer-to-peer networking.

5. Adopt hyper-automation and a well-architected framework (WAF).

Hyperautomation is a great way to address cloud skills shortage as it reduces dependency on humans and delivers operational excellence. Adopt a WAF to standardize cloud solution design and deployment to help accelerate cloud adoption.

6. Leverage on-demand consultant network.

Because it is hard to hire experts for every technology, companies should invest in building an on-demand consultant network with niche cloud consulting firms and academia to gain access to an alternative talent pool of experienced minds and tools.

7. Partner with hyperscalers.

Companies should attempt to establish a joint “Council for Cloud Enablement and Adoption” with hyperscalers to gain boundaryless knowledge sharing and access to engineering teams.

8. Outsource cloud operations.

Outsource cloud operations and optimization across security, infra, apps, data domains to a cloud managed services provider with a next-generation integrated cloud and security managed services solution. This can free up the workforce to focus on core business and tech intensity.

9. Establish co-innovation labs.

Given the shifting industry boundaries and pressure to reimagine sustainable and resilient supply chain, it is getting harder to innovate alone. Joining forces with the supply chain ecosystem and IT services providers brings fresh perspectives and skills.

10. Find innovative ways to acquire and retain talent.

Companies should create a culture of talent mobility and embrace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for multi-faceted experiences and perspectives.

11. Adopt and invest in open source projects and communities.

Provide opportunities for your cloud talent to participate actively as a contributor and early adopter in open source projects; also, leverage the community for extended knowledge base creation.

Cloud technology is highly relevant, but it boils down to people and skills. Therefore, cloud-first culture and talent readiness must be shaped with an “inside-out” rather than an “outside-in” approach.

The investments made in tech intensity and raising TQ for your workforce will ultimately pay off as you realize value from the cloud. Unfortunately, until this critical bottleneck is addressed, any idea of cloud transformation is mostly a mirage.