Challenges for IT Leaders.
Managing a trimmed budget
Having one’s cake and eating it, too… that’s what company executives demand from IT leaders. On one hand, managers grapple with a competitive market and an unrelenting technological race; whilst on the other hand, economic slowdown requires them to make savings (especially under the pressure of inflation). Managing a trimmed budget is the challenge indicated by the majority (57%) of IT leaders surveyed by Awareson. In these tough circumstances, 37% of them plan to increase the number of projects, 12% will implement cuts, and a notable 10% are holding back on decisions. After such dynamic growth over the past 3 years, this is a significant shift. This is also a good time to analyse processes, simplify them, and streamline work. In situations of limited resources, new partnerships and increased outsourcing could be the solution. It’s worth seeking budget compromises – creating a list of necessary cuts, along with justifications.
Technically speaking, to maintain employee salaries at a level corresponding to their cost of living, a 10-15% raise is needed. However, companies can’t afford that. Over 10% raises have been declared this year by 1/4 of the surveyed IT and HR managers. At the same time, some experts claim that as an industry, we’ve set a bad precedent: if employees want a raise, they change jobs. Financial motivation is problematic for companies who both lose their best employees this way, and those that gain them for the same reason. An employee who changes a job or project solely for economic reasons, is usually less engaged and has a shorter tenure with the new organisation.
Cuts in projects and budgets have led to lay-offs, which were inconvenient for everyone. Why let go of hard-earned and proven specialists, who might need to be re-hired in 2-3 quarters? Few want a repeat of the early pandemic days, when teams had to be urgently replenished right after a wave of lay-offs – but at a higher cost. According to an Awareson survey, 16% of companies reduced their workforce this year. The most affected were specialists in software development, with up to 5 years of experience. In the face of slowdown, companies are trying to retain their most productive employees, typically independent seniors and experts, whilst practically not creating new positions for juniors. What makes sense during a crisis might result in an increased talent shortage in a year or two. It’s worth noting that IT lay-offs created an opportunity for IT start-ups and companies from other industries like finance, e-commerce, and pharmaceuticals, to expand their IT teams.
Shortage of suitable candidates
IT expenditure forecasts indicate that at least until 2026, the market will grapple with a shortage of specialists. Despite the slowdown, nearly 62% of IT companies and firms with IT departments in Poland, are expanding their teams. Demand from abroad is also increasing as international corporations reach out for our still more affordable workforce. New challenges are emerging: for instance, there are more job applications, but selection has become more difficult. In areas such as SAP, security, cloud, data processing, and recently AI, there is still a shortage of candidates.
Michał Kasprzyk, Head of Alcon Global Services Regional Centre, a Member of the Board: From my perspective, the biggest challenge still remains the shortage of suitable candidates. By this, I don’t mean individuals who are well-versed in all the latest versions of the technologies used in a project, but those who are willing to learn them. Of course, technical competency in candidates is essential, but even more important is whether the specialist will fit into the organisation’s culture and dynamics. The right candidate is someone who can effectively use the tools provided by the company, and seek solutions on their own. Recently, we formed a successful Data Analytics team using this approach – where specialists with over 2 years of experience, perform just as well as those with over 10 years. A candidate chosen, based on values, is more engaged and less likely to switch jobs. This requires more effort during team-building, but yields long-lasting results.
Balancing Remote Work and Office Presence
For IT leaders, remote work isn’t just about easier access to a larger pool of talent, but also challenges related to managing remote teams, evaluating their performance, and above all, dealing with a decline in employee engagement. That’s why, in an Awareson survey, as many as 27% of IT managers declared that they would want specialists to have a greater presence in the office next year. This will face resistance from a significant group of candidates: 26% of specialists state that they want to work remotely, and exclusively, while another 23% allow for office presence only once a week, at most. The challenge will not only be convincing employees to attend more at the company’s headquarters, but also reshaping the rules for building a culture, mentoring, and team collaboration.
AI in IT team work
The development of AI is impacting the work of IT teams, transforming their roles and methods. Artificial intelligence enables better utilisation of existing tools, prototyping solutions, automating tests, and optimising codes. It also assists in data analysis, pattern recognition, and extracting essential information, thereby facilitating programming decisions. Undoubtedly, AI will completely take over simpler tasks, reducing employers’ willingness to hire less experienced specialists. Some parts of the industry will manage to some extent, using low-code or no-code solutions. In cases where specialised knowledge and business understanding are needed, AI remains mainly a curiosity for now, closely observed by developers.
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