By W.B. King
While the need to implement new technologies is at an all-time high, the number of IT professional to fill related roles is at an all-time low. To this end, a 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap Survey by Gartner, Inc. found that IT executives view the talent shortage as the leading adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies, compared with just 4% in 2020.
“The ongoing push toward remote work and the acceleration of hiring plans in 2021 has exacerbated IT talent scarcity, especially for sourcing skills that enable cloud and edge, automation and continuous delivery,” noted Yinuo Geng, research vice president at Gartner.
“As one example, of all the IT automation technologies profiled in the survey, only 20% of them have moved ahead in the adoption cycle since 2020,” Geng added. “The issue of talent is to blame here.”
IT Staffing Shortage a Trend Before the Pandemic
Trellance Chief Growth Officer Karan Bhalla said that while the pandemic accelerated an existing tech staffing shortage, new employment dynamics are emerging.
“The demand for technology specialists was already growing across industry sectors before the pandemic," Bhalla said. "But as digital transformation became imperative, the competition for talent really intensified.”
The Tampa, Fla.-based data company, a credit union cooperative that counts more than 145 credit unions as clients, is a provider of business analytics and technology consulting.
“This is also driving up salaries significantly, and credit unions are competing against organizations with a lot more resources,” Bhalla continued. “Though the talent shortages seem to be impacting organizations broadly, the tech talent shortage is especially critical.”
Regarding the impact the pandemic has had on IT staffing, SMA Technologies CEO Todd Dauchy agrees with Bhalla, but also pointed to longstanding tech employment issues.
“Tech staffing has been a challenge for a long time but has been exacerbated in recent years," Dauchy said. "Of course, the pandemic has greatly increased the challenge with today’s work-from-home possibilities."
The Houston, Texas-based company provides workload automation software and counts 361 credit unions as clients.
“Employees can now work from anywhere for any company, making retention more difficult for employers who wish to have their staff working in-office,” Dauchy continued. “Before COVID-19, local talent was easier to retain. Now, evolved expectations for workplace flexibility have led employees to seek out opportunities that offer better experiences.”
Needed Talent and Resources
Traditionally, Dauchy said that banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions have not had “the budget to pay market value salaries” for tech workers.
“When I worked for a credit union, our team was consistently paid lower wages while companies in the area with larger tech departments were able to pay employees better,” said Dauchy who served 12 years as vice president and chief information officer at Corning Credit Union. “The challenge is even greater now as financial institutions are forced to compete for talent not only nationwide, but all across the world."
The 2021 "Great Resignation,” he added, is another variable as certain tech employees realize the ability to obtain “more rewarding positions” outside of traditional roles in financial institutions.
“Computer operators can now land analyst roles, core banking programmers are moving to larger companies with more contemporary programming languages, and network administrators are on the hunt for organizations with more advanced technology stacks,” Dauchy said.
In Bhalla’s view, the most universal pain point is competition for talent, cost and the timelines to hire and onboard. He added that it is also harder to retain in-demand talent.
“Some of the areas we see the biggest needs are in legacy programming, business intelligence tools, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud transitions, and of course, digital transformation technologies,” Bhalla said.
Dauchy offered that credit unions must figure ways to "attract and retain talent not just through compensation," but through "career pathing," engaging work and work-from-home programs.
“To counteract the tight labor market, they must also continue to increase efficiency,” he said. “The pandemic prompted companies to use technology and increase online services in the absence of traditional customer interaction, and financial institutions were no exception.”
In an effort to combat the highest employment shortages in decades, Trellance launched a new “as-a-service” model. The solution offers credit unions access to talent in data science, software and data management technologies, user experience and cloud migration, among other areas.
“Credit unions face stiff competition from new tech-first financial firms who are working aggressively to capture market share from traditional financial services, and too many CUs are losing the battle,” Trellance President and CEO Tom Davis said. “In this dynamic environment, they need advanced tech practitioners to become more agile in adopting new technology and responding to trends as they emerge. It can be challenging to bring these professionals in-house as full-time employees.”
The 2.2 billion Denver, Colo.-based Credit Union of Colorado is among Trellance clients piloting the solution. The credit union serves more than 148,000 members.
“Augmenting our team with experienced tech professionals from Trellance allowed us to seamlessly complete the development of new tools, even when faced with a staff shortage,” said Terry Leis, president and CEO of Credit Union of Colorado. “We see it as another avenue that can help us more nimbly seize opportunities and respond to changes with greater ease.”
Bhalla noted that pilot programs began “somewhat organically,” due to clients experiencing staff turnover or that they “simply didn’t have resources internally” to move critical projects forward.
“After piloting with four credit unions, we determined this need was pressing enough for Trellance to devote resources to the creation of a new professional staffing business unit,” he said.
Bhalla further explained that the “as-a-service” model provides credit unions with more “immediate access to skilled tech workers” who understand the industry and can work in a secure, cloud-based environment.
“They are Trellance employees, not the credit union’s, who work within the credit union’s digital environment and provide support the same way an employee would,” Bhalla continued. “Our professional staffing team is skilled in the areas of data science, software and data management technologies, user experience, and cloud migration.”
Making the Case for Workload Automation
SMA Technologies' answer to IT staffing shortages is its OpCon solution, a workload automation and orchestration platform that provides enterprise-level power and scalability with a simple-to-use, low-code interface, Dauchy explained.
“OpCon removes some or all of the human interventions necessary to execute a task, freeing IT staff to exercise their strengths in completing higher-value initiatives,” he said.
To date more than 600 clients, including Baxter Credit Union, American Airlines Federal Credit Union and Mountain America Credit Union, are successfully using the OpCon solution.
“The use cases for automation are wide-ranging, from payments to loan servicing to file management of document imaging, business intelligence and reporting applications,” said Dauchy.
The platform also eliminates the need for expensive IT hardware, software licensing fees and the staff required to support on-site infrastructure, explained SMA Technologies Vice President of Product Todd Weiss. This approach, he added, ensures business continuity during a natural disaster or other major disruption as applications and data are securely backed up and protected.
"Outsourcing is a growing trend in the financial services industry and migration to the cloud is just another sign of how financial institutions are looking for efficiencies in their workload automation systems and processes," Weiss said.
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