For businesses across nearly every vertical, acquiring IT talent has never been harder, and IT execs are looking more closely at tech investment to lure and retain those employees.
Most senior IT leaders in a recent Mulesoft survey admitted the difficulty of hiring qualified IT professionals influences their organization’s technology investment choices.
Based on a global survey of 1,000 of those IT executives, the report indicates the focus has shifted to creating people- and experience-centric capabilities. IT and business leaders are re-examining their tech stack during the economic slowdown to prioritize solutions that deliver maximum value to employees, not complexity and burnout.
Matt McLarty, MuleSoft’s CTO and vice president of the digital transformation office, explains that technology investment and enablement are how senior IT leaders can begin to create a people-centric organization for their employees to acquire and retain IT talent.
“Employee experience starts with giving people the right tools to do their jobs,” he says, noting 98% of respondents said attracting talent is factored into their technology choices. “If those investments are only empowering developers, organizations are leaving behind tons of untapped potential and resources,” McLarty says. “The key is to empower more people in an organization — not just developers — to become builders of digital solutions.”
At the same time, new technologies need to play nicely with existing ones, or else they risk getting in the way of overall business agility. That means senior IT leaders need to invest in technologies like low- and no-code that increase productivity of the organization overall.
However, they must make sure those new tools can be integrated with the mission-critical systems in IT.
Low-Code/No-Code Solutions Gain Traction
The survey found more than a third (36%) of organizations are turning to low- and no-code tools in the next 12 months.
McLarty says empowering both technical and non-technical workers with low- and no-code tools is the key to ensuring the organization spreads the wealth of work while also fueling efficient growth.
“The model we’ve seen work well is when those partial or complete digital solutions are then vetted, integrated and governed by the IT experts,” he explains. “That’s the way organizations can scale their IT skills while also combatting the talent shortage.”
Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO at Freshworks, points out that low- and no-code tools enable businesses to do more with less, and the easy-to-use, configuration-based user experience of these tools means anyone can use them.
He adds tech stacks have become bloated and complex, with features end users typically don’t care about. “In an attempt to check every box, technology went from being purpose-built, to tailored to no one,” he says. “The pandemic has made this trend more pronounced.”
Ramakrishnan conducts an “app rationalization” exercise regularly with his team, evaluating software applications in terms of integrations needed, their security, whether they are being used (to retire if needed) and how much they are being used (to reduce licenses if needed).
“Constantly audit your tech stack,” he advises. “We also involve the end user to make sure everyone is part of the process, akin to a democratized process.”
From his perspective, leaders need to create space for end-user feedback — without it, companies could be taking away valuable tools that employees use and leave them with bloated applications they never use.
“It’s important to remember we want to cut unnecessary bloat, not stifle innovation,” Ramakrishnan says.
IT is Not an Island
When it comes to building broader, company-wide process improvements and innovations, McLarty says senior IT leaders must work with their business partners.
“IT can’t be an island — companies that succeeded in the pandemic featured much closer collaboration between business and IT,” he says.
That helped IT understand their organizations’ process holistically, the relationships between them, and what their processes depend on.
“We’ve also observed organizations that succeed in the digital-first economy not only decompose their processes into core capabilities that can be used in many contexts, but they also have tremendous visibility and understanding of their capabilities and associated processes,” he says. “Thinking through processes, their dependencies, and their priorities is essential.”
Ed Macosky, chief innovation officer at Boomi, agrees that business and IT teams need to be on the same page and keep lines of communication open while collaborating on business solutions.
This way, tech teams can more effectively help business teams and offer recommendations on how they can best support each department’s goals.
“To survive a constantly changing and unpredictable economic environment, IT and business teams need to stay in constant communication and pull one another in when they need support,” he says.
Automation Can Help Address Skills Gap
McLarty says when governed effectively by IT, automation and self-serve initiatives create efficiency at scale, and can also create capacity for both technical and non-technical workers.
“Rather than spending valuable time on tasks like manual data entry, both can leverage automated processes to increase productivity and allocate that time that would’ve been spent doing those manual tasks to higher-value work,” he says.
Furthermore, automating the process of automation creates a multiplier of productivity.
For example, if you give a frontline worker the tools to automate their process simply by recording them executing it manually, you can accelerate your time to the productivity gains given by that automation.
“This creates capacity for current employees to combat stress and burnout,” he says.
Macosky points out the skills gap means companies need to figure out how to do more with less and sees automation as part of the solution.
“It can help reduce human errors as well so there are fewer mistakes and redos,” he adds. “Automated workflows also enable employees to spend more of their time on tasks where their human expertise is needed, reducing overhead costs and creating a more meaningful use of employee time.”