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One of the business adages that remains tried and true in any era is that identifying a customer pain point and solving it for them is a sure-fire path to success. In the case of IT organizations, a survey of 600 IT professionals and executives conducted by Pluralsight, a provider of an online learning platform for IT professionals, identifies cloud management (39 percent), cybersecurity (39 percent), data storage (35 percent) and network infrastructure (34 percent) as the biggest pain points they are trying to address in filling the IT labor skills shortage.

Not surprisingly, the survey finds most organizations are trying to address this and other issues by upskilling their existing workforce. However, 40 percent of respondents said they are generally too busy to learn new skills. Other factors cited include lack of budget (29 percent) and distracting work environment (27 percent).

The survey finds 71 percent of respondents spend on average between 30 and 120 minutes a week developing their tech skills. Only 18 percent of respondents can spend more than two hours a week on skills development. On the plus side, 87 percent of respondents report their organization provides them with tools and processes needed to learn new skills.

Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said they also expect to be compensated for acquiring those skills. On average, respondents said they expected to see an 11 percent salary increase. Those expectations, however, may be running counter to economic reality. One-third of respondents experienced no salary change or a salary reduction last year. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) state they would expect no change in salary due to learning additional advanced technology skills.

That issue is undoubtedly a factor in the so-called “Great Resignation” wave that many organizations are currently trying to navigate. IT professionals, especially, are prone to leave an organization because demand for their skillsets are so high.

Balancing the benefits of cost of skilled IT labor

Savvy managed service providers (MSPs) are, of course, always having a conversation about the cost of IT labor with the senior leaders of the organizations they serve. One of the primary advantages any MSP can offer is the ability to share the cost of acquiring a skill across its entire base of customers.

For example, the cost of hiring a full-time cybersecurity specialist is significantly higher than relying on the expertise of a managed security service provider (MSSP) that also assumes all the risk associated with acquiring and retaining that expertise. In contrast, if a full-time cybersecurity specialist leaves, the odds an organization will be able to quickly replace that person are slim to none. The typical MSSP tends to have a much deeper bench to make up for any temporary reduction in staff.

In an ideal situation, MSPs either manage all IT services or have a great working relationship with the internal IT staff. Every MSP, however, encounters situations where the internal IT staff views the MSP as a threat to its existence. That generally creates a lot of friction that ultimately is a disservice to both the MSP and the organization it is trying to serve.

Each MSP will need to decide for themselves to what degree that friction is worth their time and effort given all the other demand for their expertise from organizations that may be a lot more amenable to support.

Photo: Skylines / Shutterstock


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Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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