Stop IT “Brain Drain” with AIOps

Guest contributor Enzo Signore tackles tech talent shortages with guidance on staff retention and IT support activities.

CIO’s face many challenges today – cybersecurity threats, limited budgets, and business transformation issues, to name a few. But is headcount the biggest worry?  According to a May 2018 Gartner survey, CEOs identified a lack of talent and workforce capability as the biggest inhibitor to digital business progress. There just aren’t enough trained IT professionals to go around, and the competition for available tech talent is fierce.

Hiring for artificial intelligence (AI) positions is especially difficult, as fewer than 10,000 people in the world are qualified to do state-of-the-art AI research and engineering. A recent article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal has highlighted just how significant the current AI talent shortage is. And a study by Ernst & Young  has revealed that over 50 percent of companies working with AI say the lack of qualified workers impacts business operations. "This year, as businesses strategized how to integrate AI into their operations, they were hampered by a shortage of experts with requisite knowledge of the technology," Ernst & Young chief analytics officer Chris Mazzei said in a press release.

Other IT categories, including business intelligence and data analytics, artificial intelligence, and DevOps/agile processes, also face critical staffing shortages, according to CIO magazine. While recruiting outside talent is one way to fill these IT positions, another approach may be to develop internal workers. Many organizations find that the best way to fill job openings is to train existing IT staff in new job skills and in areas like data science and cloud security.

Get strategic about staff retention

Whether the decision is made to hire outside candidates or develop internal staff, filling IT job openings is just the first step. With so many talented people already employed, employee poaching is at an all-time high, making IT staff retention a big challenge as well. The tight job market forces recruiters to become aggressive, reaching out to workers who may not be considering a job change, but would do so for the right incentive.

After spending so much time and effort to hire/develop your IT staff, how can business operators keep these employees from walking out the door? With so many other suitors, how is it possible to stop the “brain drain” of IT workers?

One way to fight back is to keep current employees engaged with innovative projects that capture their interests and use their skills. These workers should be treated like the valuable assets they are. Their time and talent should not be wasted on menial work that can be better done by system tools. Investing in automation solutions and system upgrades that relieve IT workers of tedious system maintenance and testing duties will enable them to work on more valuable activities.

Modernize the organization to retain IT talent

Savvy CIOs realize that they will need to change their work culture if they want to retain talented employees. Implementing work-saving automation tools and cutting-edge technology can boost IT professionals’ morale and job performance. Freeing up the teams to work on the "fun stuff" -- interesting, transformative projects with higher value to the business -- will improve staff retention rates and deliver greater "bang for the buck" from investment in IT personnel resources.

There are several ways automation such as AI for IT Operations (AIOps) can change culture.

  • Enable staff to be more efficient – Many IT employees feel underutilized and bored with ongoing responsibilities like patch management and system maintenance, and have no time to work on innovative projects that benefit the business. Eliminate waste by automating IT inventory discovery. In most IT environments, staff wastes significant time and resources performing manual service management tasks since their CMDB is inaccurate and they do not have visibility into CI relationships. This is especifically challenging when the organization has deployed dynamic environments (virtualized, containers, cloud). To avoid repetitious, work waste, automate the discovery of IT assets.
  • Make teamwork a priority – Break down internal silos by mapping applications to infrastructure. Traditional silos caused by IT monitoring tools force the IT team to manually correlate processes across multiple domains. This means long conference calls, manual collection of large amounts of data, and finger pointing when performance issues arise. By mapping applications to infrastructure, its possible to break down these barriers and drive constructive teamwork.
  • Become predictive – Increase productivity by automating root cause analysis. Instead of repeating the same manual, error-prone and wasteful troubleshooting process that can last 4 hours on average and consume 11 full time employees (in 15 percent of cases, according to the Digital Enterprise Journal), why not predict when the next outage will occur?  This will not only increase the uptime and performance of the business application, but it will free up the IT staff to work on new projects.

By modernizing recruitment/retention practices, and the IT operations process itself, CIO’s can succeed in hiring and keeping valuable IT personnel. Using AIOps is one way to enhance staff productivity and effectiveness so that these workers become a source of innovation.

About the Author:

Enzo Signore is Chief Marketing Officer, FixStream.  He is passionate about building and growing businesses. He brings to FixStream a wealth of industry and marketing experience, having led the go-to-market strategy of early stage companies and established leaders like Cisco and Avaya. Most recently, Enzo was the CMO at 8x8, a public SaaS communications company and 5-time Gartner Magic Quadrant leader. Prior to this, Enzo was responsible for marketing at Avaya, a $4 billion communications company, and for marketing and sales at JDS Uniphase, the leader in optical and test & measurement solutions. Enzo lead the DSL and Cable business at Cisco, and helped two early stage companies (Retix and ISOCOR) grow from Series A to successful IPO’s. Enzo loves to travel, play sports and is an avid Torino soccer fan.

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