Mass tech layoffs have been a common thread in the news recently. Several big tech companies that have trimmed their workforces. As businesses begin to offset aggressive post-pandemic hiring quotas, we'll likely see more restructuring in the coming months.
There are also shifts beyond economic uncertainty that indicate bigger workforce changes to come. Microsoft, for example, recently announced a multi-billion-dollar investment in OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Additionally, Gartner expects worldwide IT spending to grow by 2.4 percent. This is lower than in years past or previous forecasts, but businesses are betting big on software, not talent, to grow.
So, what happens in the face of major staffing shortages, rapid technological change, and unwavering expectations to deliver on goals? Whether fueled by a global pandemic, the economy, or an industrial revolution, we must be prepared for how big staffing decisions will affect our IT teams.
Here are three ways layoffs will impact IT workers:
1. Increased shadow IT
Few teams have felt the shift to hybrid and remote work more heavily than IT. With virtual communication taking a stronghold, new conferencing and messaging applications, cloud growth, and network security brought new challenges.
According to Spiceworks, 72 percent of technology professionals said the shift to remote work created additional work for IT departments. When IT teams aren’t able to meet the demands of employees, they default to workarounds. While this can offer a quick near-term solution, the longtail results can be disastrous.
[ Also read Security automation: 3 priorities for CIOs. ]
With no oversight, shadow IT services and tools increase risk and vulnerability to attack, or more commonly, poor security hygiene. With mounting to-do lists and more projects than ever, overworked IT teams may default to rubber-stamping access in the name of productivity.
But failure to properly govern identities within the organization can lead to a chain reaction of regulatory and budgetary compliance missteps. Automation tools can help ease identity governance worries internally, but IT teams should still be cognizant of what’s being used by employees externally and the business risks they pose.
2. Greater reliance on platform solutions
In the case of shadow IT, too many tech tools and services can be seen as the problem. But in many ways, they can also serve as a solution. The right technology can go a long way in alleviating common IT burdens – the key is choosing solutions that work well within a company’s existing technology stack.
Advocating for software that is easy for employees to use and integrate will go a long way. One smart approach is to consider solutions that work within your organization’s IT Service Management (ITSM) platform.
This will reduce help desk requests and resistance to new tech adoption. Opting for a familiar interface can cut down on training and onboarding needs, freeing IT teams to work on higher-priority tasks.
Not only is this approach more cost-effective, but it offers another layer of IT support and security from the platform provider – something that’s critically important to overworked IT departments.
Under pressure to do more with less, a business platform is the best way for IT teams to avoid losing ground, even in the wake of staffing shakeups.
3. Growth in IT domain expertise
As much as we’re seeing artificial intelligence (AI) proliferate in industries from healthcare to finance, the same will happen for certain IT responsibilities.
Low- and no-code capabilities, and even certain business platform features, have made it easier for non-technical workers to take on responsibilities once owned solely by IT. This growth in domain expertise will help eliminate silos between IT and the broader business and free up more time for IT teams to work on more meaningful projects.
Consider HR, for example. Onboarding, offboarding, and ensuring employees have access to the right tools is an important part of any business. Too much access leads to security risks, and too little can negatively impact productivity.
Though the stakes are high, with proper controls and rules in place, there’s no reason an HR or other functional area leader can’t make those decisions and grant or limit access accordingly. As this becomes more common, it will be a great help to IT teams.
Layoffs can be extremely disruptive to even the most established companies. Because businesses rely so heavily on IT for safe and efficient operations, IT teams often bear much of the burden. But more strategic decisions about technology investments and growing technological domain expertise are two positive byproducts of organizational change that will improve IT operations in the long run.
[ Learn the non-negotiable skills, technologies, and processes CIOs are leaning on to build resilience and agility in this HBR Analytic Services report: Pillars of resilient digital transformation: How CIOs are driving organizational agility. ]
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