5 Intelligent Automation Strategies for the IT Talent Shortage

7 min read

Five strategic recommendations to help top IT talent thrive and become more efficient and scalable.

IT is facing a serious talent shortage. Over 70% of IT executive respondents surveyed by IDC in Q1 2022 report that the talent shortage is an urgent concern that is currently slowing progress toward technology modernization and transformation goals. That shortage isn’t being addressed any time soon. According to the January 2022 Gartner IT Spend Forecast, 50% of tech vacancies have been open for six months, and this trend is expected to continue.

IT staffing shortages combined with high employee turnover rates result in institutional knowledge loss, manual process breakdowns and unplanned downtime. That delays new products from getting to market and leads to less satisfied customers. Worse yet, the burden of daily operations falls on remaining IT employees, increasing burnout and further perpetuating the core problem.

Intelligent automation can prevent and offset staffing issues by improving the employee experience. After all, IT excellence isn’t just about finding top talent. It’s about creating a culture and employee experience that keeps your top talent happy. Your best employees entered the field to innovate, not to be mired in reactive responsibilities and consumed by operational overhead. Give them the tools they deserve with IT solutions that automate menial tasks, break down silos and support collaboration.

These five strategic recommendations and associated technologies can help create an environment where top tech talent thrives, allowing IT talent to be more efficient and scalable.

1. Minimize manual allocation and guesswork with automated application resource management

Application resource management software is designed to continuously analyze every layer of applications’ resource utilization to ensure applications get what they need to perform, when they need it.

How it improves IT employee experience: The traditional process of application resource allocations is full of manual, time-consuming number crunching, and it typically involves guesswork and over-provisioning. By automating many of the often-reactive tasks burdening your team (such as container-sizing and resource decisions), IT teams can reclaim time from planning sessions for building revenue-generating functionality.

How it benefits the business: Depending on the strength of the solution, application resource management software can safely reduce cloud cost by up to 33% while optimizing application performance. By stitching together your entire IT supply chain from application to infrastructure, you can break down silos and move away from manual allocations and guesswork and toward real-time, dynamic and trustworthy resourcing across multicloud environments.

Real-world ROI: Apparel company Carhartt began using IBM Turbonomic Application Resource Management to help its hybrid cloud infrastructure handle dramatic spikes in demand. Using the software, the IT team clarified the resource relationships between its hardware, virtualization and application performance management (APM) solution, stitching together the company’s complete application stack. The software also helped identify opportunities for improvement, enabling Carhartt IT to prevent performance issues during the holiday season and beyond, driving record sales.

Carhartt has fully automated virtual machine (VM) placement, helping to improve overall performance while reducing resource consumption by 15%. Carhartt IT has also been using IBM Turbonomic to optimize cloud deployments, finding they could improve the efficiency of their Microsoft Azure cloud environment by 45%, while assuring workload performance.

“Turbonomic’s automated actions not only improve performance, but they free up the team’s resources. The team now has more time to innovate rather than focusing on keeping the lights on.” — Gary Prindle, Senior Systems Engineer, Carhartt

2. Quickly understand the impact of code changes with observability and immediate, granular context

APM and observability software is designed to provide deep visibility into modern distributed applications for faster, automated problem identification and resolution. The more observable a system, the more quickly and accurately you can navigate from an identified performance problem to its root cause, without additional testing or coding.

How it improves IT employee experience: Performance testing is critical to successful application development, but it often requires significant manual effort from employees, such as testing the load time for a specific endpoint. Having a tool that can monitor the application ecosystem with continuous real-time discovery empowers employees to identify and fix issues faster and accelerate products to market. It also helps enhance collaboration. All teams can gain transparency into the direct source of a problem with data-driven context, thereby reducing time spent on debugging and root cause analysis.

How it benefits the business: Ultimately, the right observability solution helps the business bring better products to market faster. And if you’re bringing more services to market faster than ever — and in the process, deploying new application components — traditional APM’s once-a-minute data sampling can’t keep pace. With an enterprise observability solution, you can better manage the complexity of modern applications that span hybrid cloud landscapes — especially as demand for better customer experiences and more applications impacts business and IT operations.

Real-world ROI: Vivy is an intermediary between patients and their healthcare providers, so it’s vital that their patient-facing application is always available. As the application gained popularity, receiving more than 200 million requests per second, Vivy’s developers realized that some services were running slowly. IBM Observability with Instana raises a single incident in response to slow service or problematic requests — including all corresponding events — and identifies the most probable root cause. Armed with this actionable data, Vivy’s engineers can quickly assess the situation and resolve issues. With this software, Vivy reduced mean time to repair (MTTR) by 66%, from up to three days to one day or less.

“Instana was fast and easy to deploy, and with zero configuration, it was able to discover all of our services and their corresponding dependencies.” — Kirill Merkushev, Head of Backend, Vivy

3. Eliminate fire drills using proactive incident management

Incident management is the critical process that IT teams follow to respond to service disruption or unplanned events. With proactive incident management tools, organizations can reliably prioritize and resolve incidents faster, offering better service to users.

How it improves IT employee experience: IT needs to quickly analyze, correlate and learn from its operational and unanticipated events to better prepare for disruptions. But time spent validating false alerts and managing huge volumes of data leads to employee fatigue. Proactive incident management software can help eliminate up to 80% of employee time wasted on false positives, allowing teams to reclaim time for proactively solving the real issues.

How it benefits the business: You can proactively improve service quality with data, minimize potential costly downtime and improve customer experience by minimizing event noise and correlating a vast amount of unstructured and structured data in real-time.

Real-world ROI: Electrolux needed to efficiently cut through the network noise and identify the tasks that maintain successful operations. “In one year,” says Joska Lot, Electrolux’s Global Solution Service Architect, “we fix the same type of issue 1,000 times. And we’ve had people spending one hour [per instance] managing these activities manually.” Using IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps, resolution times are now one hour, not three weeks. By automating a menial task that consumes 1,000 hours a year, operators’ expertise can be applied to more valuable, higher-level tasks, such as identifying new correlation criteria to feed to the AIOps solution or refining rules and actions based on local conditions.

“We see about 100,000 events per day. It’s so important in this huge ocean to identify exactly the drop of venom that you have to remove to save your life.” — Joska Lot, Global Solution Service Architect: Monitoring and Events Management, Electrolux AB

4. Optimize uptime and spend safely in real-time using application resource management

Application resource management software helps ensure applications get what they need to perform. Beyond saving teams from manual provisioning, it can also help organizations save on cloud and infrastructure costs.

How it improves IT employee experience: With applications running on autopilot, IT teams can shift their energy to innovation and reclaim time to drive better customer experiences.

How it benefits the business: By giving applications what they need, when they need it (and nothing more), application resource management tools can assure performance and save cloud and infrastructure costs.

Real-world ROI: Providence, an organization that provides healthcare for the poor and vulnerable, faced a serious budget issue. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the need to reduce waste and maintain cost efficiency. Using IBM Turbonomic, Providence achieved more than USD 2 million in savings through optimization actions while assuring application performance, even during peak demand.

“Instead of it being a two- or three-year journey for people to start to conceptualize that cloud is elastic, we showed how we could use the cloud to better manage costs and performance.” — Bryan de Boer, Executive Director, Providence

5. Automate license compliance (and more) with license and resource management tools

Software licensing management tools help you track and evaluate how software is being handled across the company to ensure licenses are being appropriately managed. This helps optimize your licensing system and boost revenue.

How it improves IT employee experience: The complexity of hybrid IT environments often requires software, hardware and cloud solutions from a variety of vendors. Managing these solutions burdens scarce IT resources with the responsibility of correlating insights across platforms, controlling license costs and optimizing resource investments — not to mention maintaining license compliance to avoid penalties and reduce security exposures. License and resource management solutions automate the manual tasks of software license and resource optimization, freeing IT talent to proactively right-size the software portfolio.

How it benefits the business: With license and resource management tools, you can stop over-allocating resources to support license workloads, avoid end-of-service outages, reduce security vulnerabilities with improved version management and help mitigate the risk of penalties from software non-compliance to minimize surprise billings.

Real-world ROI: Solutions like Flexera One with IBM Observability can help reduce time spent researching and validating IT asset data by 60%, decrease the effort spent managing external audits by 80% and reduce software license spend through rationalization by 2%, according to a study conducted by Hobson & Company.

“The value of Flexera IT Asset Management is immediate and demonstrable.” — Hobson & Company

Get started with intelligent automation solutions

Your technology should work for your people, not the other way around. Streamline your IT operations with intelligent automation so you can free your top talent to focus on innovating and engaging in meaningful work. Less time spent on operational overhead improves overall employee experience and simplifies tasks like debugging, application resource allocation and incident resolution.

Learn more about how IBM’s intelligent automation solutions can help you address the IT talent shortage:

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