The shortage of skilled workers is taking its toll on the tech sector more than most; in 2021 there were more than two million job vacancies in the technology sector.
And there appears to be little sign of this trend abating despite the current economic woes, a potential recession, and layoffs in the tech sphere.
Businesses struggling to fill these vacancies face a number of serious consequences. Last year, Harvey Nash, an IT recruitment company found that two-thirds of UK digital leaders fail to keep pace with change due to the lack of talent they require – hampering the implementation of their digital transformation plans. Furthermore, the skills shortage risks placing the IT department under incredible stress as it does not have the workforce to support on the tasks at hand.
Enterprises cannot afford to wait for suitable applicants with the required IT knowledge. Yet the IT team alone cannot cope with the volume of work. The solution lies in extending IT tasks to the wider team – beyond the IT department through training non-IT people to use simple no-code/low-code tools. The future of IT will undoubtedly involve the wider workforce – and both IT and the business need to be open to this evolution.
A practical solution for the IT skills shortage
No-code/low-code platforms enable businesses to empower their employees to create new solutions quickly and easily. Instead of waiting for the help of an IT specialist who, for example, would need to write hundreds of lines of code to add a new search field to an internal database, employees across all departments of the business, without traditional technical or coding skills, are able to easily do so themselves. Not only does this approach enable efficiency and create an opportunity to deliver better business outcomes, but it also removes the barrier that the skills shortage is placing on companies as they face hiring struggles. Instead, businesses can focus on hiring people who may lack IT skills but bring other important skills to the business while still being able to carry out workflow automation, thus reducing the pressure on IT teams.
The growing adoption of automation across businesses is already visible as it becomes more accessible through no-code/low-code tools. Findings from our 2022 Work Automation Index showed that 66% of organisations now have five or more departments using automation and the number of organisations with seven departments automating has nearly tripled since 2019. IT automations were down to 25% of all automated processes this year, while they accounted for nearly 40% last year. Critically, the findings also showed that 23% of automations were built by non-technical users in business operations roles – the highest of any persona in both business and IT.
Indeed, the insights underscore that IT teams are now becoming the less dominant automation creators. This demonstrates that when you have the right guardrails, the right governorship, and the right tools in place it is possible to have business users creating automation safely.
The shifting role of IT
As automation is more widely adopted across organisations, the role of IT is shifting from delivering projects to being an enabler of the business. But IT teams should not feel unsettled by this as it makes the department even more valuable to the business.
The IT team’s role is becoming more focused on coaching to support and encourage business technologists. This encompasses providing them with training, consulting, and best practices – all the support necessary to make sure they are getting the most out of automation and can use it effectively and safely.
IT needs to own the architecture to ensure that the business has the tools it needs, whilst still controlling the data behind the scenes. But this means that IT needs to partner with employees and be open to the adoption, instead of keeping it all within the IT department. In this model, IT is able to be a strategic partner to the business, and projects can be co-created. Effectively, IT can still govern new projects, while the business becomes responsible for running them.
Looking to the future: Why companies need to listen to all employees
Generally, the decision as to whether one or more no-code/low-code platforms should be used lies with the C-level IT managers, such as the CIO or CTO. On the other hand, department heads are less frequently asked about their needs. As far as internal processes are concerned, however, no-code/low-code tools are most often used to make departmental or area-related adjustments.
The same applies to the implementation. Here, too, it is still mainly IT experts or internal developers who are allowed to develop no-code/low-code projects and make corresponding adjustments. Employees who do not have the appropriate previous knowledge, on the other hand, are prohibited from access in most cases. In view of this discrepancy, it is not surprising that in practice there is still a lot of room for improvement and those who could benefit from no-code/low-code development in everyday work can feel frustrated with the status quo.
The potential that no-code/low-code tools offer companies can only fully unfold if those who juggle data on a daily basis are listened to – and that is not only IT, but also departments such as HR, marketing, production, sales and purchasing.
Even small adjustments to the existing systems can make a huge difference. However, the IT department, whose expertise is needed for this, is far too slow to meet these needs. It often takes weeks or even months for the small team of IT experts to find the time to process individual orders. No-code/low-code platforms can enable employees to solve their problems themselves instead, thereby further increasing productivity.
The potential of low-code/no-code is far from exhausted. As more businesses adopt it across departments, they will experience first-hand how it can enable and speed up processes, whilst also reducing the pressure on IT teams and hiring stressors triggered by the skills shortage.
About the Author
Carter Busse IS CIO at Workato, where he leads business technology and best practice internal usage of Workato’s automation technology. His thought leadership has been quoted in Business Insider, Quartz, CIO Dive, VentureBeat, and more. As an IT executive, Carter has seen success in both private and public companies with a career spanning 3 IPOs – Excite@Home, Salesforce,com, and MobileIron. He was employee number 70 and the first IT leader hired at Salesforce.com. His leadership expertise spans automation, business technology, security, and IT operations. Current projects include using NLP to improve the employee experience, and driving security automations to new levels at Workato.
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