CompTIA: Cybersecurity, IT Skills Gap Lead IT Priorities

It’s no secret that IT and communications are the lifeblood of a business in the digital age, acting as a foundation for the rest of the efforts of the enterprise. CompTIA, the non-profit association for the IT industry, has found that the majority of enterprises in a recent survey plan solid increases in IT spending this year; and four in 10 have expectations of hiring new IT staff in 2013. Top priority? Cybersecurity.

Channel partners take note: The International Technology Adoption & Workforce Issues survey also reveals that 31 percent of firms make periodic use and 14 percent regular use of outside IT firms and consultants to assist with their technology needs. The most common services used are IT repairs and troubleshooting (52 percent of companies); deployment, installation and integration of It systems (49 percent); Web design (44 percent); and general IT consulting and advisory services (34 percent).

CompTIA found the top technology priorities for the next 12 months to be cybersecurity; data storage and back-up; network infrastructure; Web presence, including e-commerce; and updating aging computers and software.

Cybersecurity threat levels are increasing in many countries and is of particular concern to enterprises. “As businesses rely more heavily on the ‘Internet of Things,’ security, data loss and privacy concerns will affect more companies on more levels than ever before,” noted Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTIA.

And, “emerging technologies such as cloud computing continue to see adoption gains as well,” said Herbert. In each country surveyed, more than half of responding companies say they are either experimenting with or fully using cloud computing solutions.

The large majority of businesses are also interested in improving their utilization of IT, as just 15 percent say they are “exactly where we want to be.” They also agree that technology will be vital to achieving their strategic priorities, which include reaching new customers; improving staff productivity and capabilities; reducing costs and overhead; and innovating more effectively. Accordingly, the greater reliance on technology may prompt many businesses to increase their IT staff over the next 12 months.

Skills rated as having the greatest importance include networks and infrastructure; database and information management; storage; IT support; and server and data center management. Many of these positions will also require technical skills in emerging areas such as cloud computing and mobility.

However, CompTIA noted that the finding comes as IT skills gaps remain a challenge for most businesses. Few are exactly where they want to be with staff expertise and experience. More than half report being concerned about the quality and quantity of IT talent available for hire.

“In many cases skills gaps are a natural part of the IT industry due to the speed of innovation,” said Terry Erdle, executive vice president of skills certification, CompTIA. “The demand for new technologies can get ahead of the supply of workers who are well trained and credentialed in those areas.”

Technology skills gaps impact businesses in many ways, including lower staff productivity, less than ideal customer support and engagement, slower new product development and speed to market and greater security threats.

Workers and companies in most countries are responding to the need for more skills. The incidence of IT staff engaging in training over past 12 months ranges from 72 percent in Japan to 97 percent in India and Thailand.

The majority of businesses also expect IT certifications to increase in importance over the next two years. Nearly three-quarters of executives believe it’s important to test after training to confirm knowledge gains. Better than six in 10 say teams of IT staff holding certifications benefit from a common foundation of knowledge and have proven expertise.

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