It is now well accepted that innovation enabled by digitisation and process change is a major lever in delivering business growth.  Indeed, the vast majority (94%) of IT directors in a recent survey by Robert Half believe that technology will play an important role in driving their organisations’ expansion in the year ahead. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”94% of IT directors believe #technology will be driving their expansion in the next year” user=”comparethecloud”]

Businesses are actively investing in cloud-based platforms as part of their infrastructure strategy to provide superb service to their clients, especially among small- and medium-sized businesses. As a result we have been seeing an increase in demand for IT professionals who can manage the transition of public and private cloud services, including Software as a Service offerings.

The areas in which IT directors believe technology will play the biggest part in driving business growth are improving the customer transactional experience (45%), and driving process or employee efficiency (32%).

The most important technology cited by IT directors to achieve these objectives is cloud adoption

The most important technology cited by IT directors to achieve these objectives is cloud adoption (34%), followed by virtualisation (29%), business analytics and intelligence (31%), and mobile solutions and application development (both 24%).

While cost and convenience are driving UK organisations to adopt the cloud for new and legacy IT systems, there are still some concerns about the security implications of moving from an on-site to a private, public or hybrid IT infrastructure.

Security concerns

Indeed, the biggest challenges associated with cloud are increased security risks (cited by 52% of CIOs), increased legal and data privacy concerns (37%), implications for cross-border data transfers (33%) and potential increased costs due to user ineffectiveness and/or excessive time wastage (28%). 

[easy-tweet tweet=”The majority of #CIOs believe the benefits of #cloud outweigh the associated #security risks”]

According to Ryan Rubin, Managing Director (UK Security & Privacy Practice), Protiviti: “Despite the security risks associated with cloud, the majority of CIOs still believe that the cost and convenience of cloud computing outweigh the risks of migrating systems onto a cloud platform for many business cases. 

“Some of the risks associated with cloud services, such as ensuring that data is not moved across borders, dealing with outsourced cloud providers, maintaining confidentiality and availability of data stored in the cloud, should be actively managed in organisations’ risk posture and security policies and practices.”

the pressure is on CIOs to find the best people with appropriate technical experience

So from a skills perspective, the pressure is on CIOs to find the best people with appropriate technical experience as well as knowledge about how to keep data safe in a new cloud-based environment.

Demand outweighs supply

Demand for specialist professionals in these areas is already outweighing supply, so businesses need a competitive edge to attract IT talent. Although competitive remuneration is still an important component, businesses also need a strong employer brand as skilled professionals are often deciding between multiple options.

Being perceived as an innovative company has become essential for UK companies to attract, recruit and retain strong IT candidates. It’s vital to demonstrate to technology candidates that you can offer a challenging, innovative environment.

Robert Half’s research found that while 50% of CIOs have responded to the need for adequate resourcing for the IT departments which have embraced cloud by up-skilling existing staff, one in five (21%) have hired skilled interim professionals to take on the load.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Being an #innovative company is essential for UK companies to attract, recruit and retain strong #IT candidates”]

The role of contractors

A common approach that we are seeing more of is to appoint an appropriately skilled and experienced contractor to lead a project and to encourage knowledge transfer to the permanent team, so that gaps are filled as quickly as possible.

All of the signs are that IT security professionals are in high demand.  CIOs need to consider how to ensure they have the right resources in place to manage the new cloud environment, whether that involves re-skilling existing teams or bringing in skilled contract IT professionals.

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Neil Owen, UK Director, Robert Half Technology Neil Owen is director of Robert Half’s Technology division and is based in London. Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world’s largest specialised recruitment firm and member of the S&P 500 index. For more than 14 years Neil has been employed within organisation’s London operations, starting as a resourcer focusing on banking and capital markets, and holding roles of increasing responsibility, including London director. He has witnessed all phases of the employment and economic cycle first-hand and is an expert on the recruitment trends within the accounting, finance, financial services, information technology and administrative fields. Neil holds a business degree from the University of Wales and is actively involved in the local business community. His in-depth knowledge of the recruitment industry and senior management experience has resulted in the authorship of numerous workplace and employment-related articles as well as regular commentary with regional and national business media. A former international athlete, Neil annually participates in an annual triathlon benefiting the company’s corporate charity. Founded in 1948, Robert Half International is a recognised leader in professional recruitment services and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. With more than 350 locations worldwide, Robert Half International has consistently ranked number one in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s list of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.” (FORTUNE, March 22, 2010). For more information visit www.roberthalf.co.uk.