How to Manage the Growing IT Talent Gap

IT is Changing—Fast
Today, IT is taking on an increasingly important role in business in contrast to its traditional role of working on the sidelines and making sure the phones ring and orders get processed. CIOs now have greater influence in business operations and decisions than ever before. A Gartner study indicates that 84% of CIOs have responsibility for areas of business outside of IT, the most common being innovation and transformation.1 At the same time, 42% of CIOs are concerned that they are missing the IT expertise or scale to deploy new technologies. 2

In this new era of the digital mesh, business and operating models are changing with the interconnection of people, objects, data, and services. It’s the new normal. To successfully transform at the intelligent digital edge, organizations must provide hyper-connectivity across an ever expanding set of endpoints.

That means IT professionals are just trying to keep pace as they evolve and modernize their infrastructure and platforms, increase agility and mobility, improve user experiences, and align with business objectives all while maintaining day-to-day operations.

The Growing Skills Gap
The problem is how. As the role of IT grows, so does the skills gap. New technologies demand new talents. CIOs report that the technologies impacting their IT departments the most in terms of seeking out new skills are AI (47%), digital security (26%), and IoT (25%).3 If you think the talent gap is bad now, just wait. It’s more than just new technologies and applications. It’s also affecting the talent pool of those who maintain and support the underlying infrastructure and day-to-day operations. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 75% of enterprises will experience visible business disruptions due to the infrastructure and operations (I&O) skills gap as compared to 20% in 2016.4

The key to delivering digital value at scale is having the right people talent,” says Terrence Cosgrove, research vice president at Gartner. “Currently there just isn’t enough talent with the digital dexterity for hire, so I&O leaders will need to develop this core competency in the talent they already have.”6

How to Bridge the Gap
Companies are dealing with the in-house talent gap in multiple ways depending on budget, leadership, and business direction.

  1. Hire (and Keep) People

    The most obvious method to address the growing IT talent gap is to increase the budget and hire more people. If you do, you’ll be joining almost half of your peers. 47% of IT leaders said they expected to increase their headcount in 2018.7 But the problem here is recruiting the right type of talent and retaining it. IT leaders at medium and large companies (40% and 49% respectively) identify IT talent acquisition and retention as a top technology concern.8 As demands on IT increase, so does stress and the revolving door syndrome. 66% of IT workers have said they have looked for another job to get away from stress, which is rampant in IT departments. 9Another important consideration is the generational shift in the workplace. The “smartness” of a company is an important factor to 71% of millennials and can affect if they really want to work for you in IT.10They want cool, digitally advanced workplaces.

  2. Versatilists vs. Specialists (More Training)

    Many organizations are adopting a bimodal approach to IT in which one team focuses on innovation while another maintains operations. According to Gartner, specialists accounted for approximately 42% of the IT workforce in 2017. But, a bimodal approach demands a more versatile skill set and an investment in more training to get your people where they need to be in terms of skills. By 2021, it’s estimated 40% of IT staff will be versatilists, or people who can perform multiple roles in the business and across multiple technologies.11

  3. The Most Popular Solution: Managed Edge Services
    The last and most popular approach to solving the in-house IT talent and/or headcount gap is utilizing third-party managed service providers (MSPs). 51% of IT leaders said they are outsourcing IT to some extent; 35% reported using managed service providers to a great extent. 12

    MSPs solve a number of problems including filling in the IT talent gap and eliminating the hassle of finding and keeping in-house talent. MSPs are also often brought in to implement new technologies to support customers and employees who expect better experiences at the intelligent digital edge, whether that edge is a national retail chain or a smart office. Some organizations bring in MSPs to maintain legacy technologies because they just can’t find techs who know older technologies. MSPs can also help organizations control costs, provide on-demand and Day 2 services, deploy new projects such as data centers, or implement technology rollouts at multiple sites with consistency and scale.

According to a CompTIA survey of IT professionals, “the global managed-services market is predicted to grow to $193B by 2019 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5%. According to CompTIA research, here’s why companies are making the switch to managed services (rated from highest priority).13

  • Improve efficiency and reliability of operations
  • Enhanced security and compliance
  • Proactive approach to maintenance
  • ROI
  • Allow staff to work on strategic projects
  • Access to new technologies
  • Lack in-house staff for certain functions
  • Predictable pricing

If you’re thinking about using a managed services provider, talk to Black Box. Our edge services include On-Demand, Day 2, Project Services, and Managed Edge Services for national and international organizations.


  1. 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda
  2. Seek CIO
  3. Mastering the New Business Executive Job of the CIO, Gartner, 2018
  4. It’s Time for Infrastructure and Operations to Get Versatile
  5. ibid
  6. Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2018
  7. ibid
  8. 2018 Insight Intelligent Technology Index
  9. TEKSystems Annual IT Worker Stress Test and Work/Life Balance Survey
  10. CompTIA Properties, LLC; Managing the Multigenerational Workforce, 2018
  11. It’s Time for Infrastructure and Operations to Get Versatile
  12. Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2018
  13. Identifying Top Trends in Managed Services
skills gap recruiting insights workforce development strategies talent management IT workforce Black Box Day 2 Support IT Support IT Talent Gap IT technicans Managed IT Services Managed Services MSP Support Services technology
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