The cloud computing industry has been growing exponentially over the past decade, following Amazon’s initial release of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) back in 2006. It has continued to fuel businesses’ digital transformation efforts, with organisations increasingly using cloud services for new initiatives. In fact, market data from Synergy Research Group revealed that in 2019, for the first time ever, enterprises spent more annually on cloud infrastructure services than on datacentre hardware and software. Last year, total spend on cloud infrastructure services reached $97 billion, up 38 percent compared to 2018. A major drive for this adoption over the years has been the increasing need for greater agility and flexibility. But in 2020 this demand reached a whole new level, as companies rushed to migrate their workforces into a fully remote working model to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of COVID Cloud computing is the technology that has allowed businesses to continue operating through an unprecedented crisis that could have easily brought many to their knees. Overnight, companies had to adopt a completely different way of working, and complacency was no longer an option. For many organisations, cloud technology has been vital in facilitating the shift to remote working. Without the cloud affording employees the ability to securely connect to their network through their home broadband and with their own devices, business continuity would simply not have been possible. 51% of UK business leaders now declare that their shift to a cloud-based business model has saved their company during COVID-19, with 60% now planning to substantially increase their use of cloud-based IT through the pandemic and beyond. Equally from an employee standpoint, workers today want the freedom and flexibility to be able to work from anywhere. Even before the rapid swing to remote working imposed by COVID-19, a growing number of business leaders already recognised the importance of this approach. According to one survey, 50% of employees globally were working outside of their main office for at least 2.5 days a week, with 85% saying that productivity had increased as a result of greater flexibility. Our own pre-COVID research also showed that flexibility was among the top 3 priorities for workers of all ages and genders. The pandemic has only accelerated this desire, with 43% of workers believing that the COVID-19 crisis marks the end of the traditional office 9-to-5, and instead craving a more agile work arrangement. The cloud enables this freedom. What’s next The COVID crisis has meant that we have now seen – by necessity – a cloud-enabled workforce in action. For many business leaders who were perhaps unconvinced about the benefits of cloud computing previously, the crisis is likely to prove to be a catalyst for much-needed change. In the months and years to come, we will inevitably see more organisations embracing agile working, and an acceleration in many businesses’ cloud transformation efforts. Companies are increasingly adopting a ‘Cloud First’ approach, looking to deploy cloud for more than just new applications but for all applications, including updating legacy systems. Gartner predicts that by 2024, more than 45% of IT spending on system infrastructure, infrastructure software, application software and business process outsourcing will shift from traditional solutions to cloud. The effect on the talent market As cloud adoption accelerates, so too will competition for individuals with the relevant in-demand skillsets to lead adoption and integration. With demand for talented cloud specialists likely to increase across the board, this will necessitate the hiring of harder-to-fill strategic positions from a wider and more diverse candidate pool. With this in mind, it’s important for organisations to take a long-term view of how they can stay ahead of the competition and secure the relevant skills their business needs, making the acquisition of cloud skills a strategically important matter. Here are a number of things to consider when recruiting and retaining cloud professionals for your organisation: Be willing to offer attractive remuneration. Consider what impact saving a few pounds on your recruitment costs may have on your organisation’s transformative intentions. Efforts to save on a pay packet may hamper your organisation’s ability to secure individuals that can drive substantial business value. Provide an opportunity to upskill. Not all cloud experts are motivated by money alone. Contractors will also be attracted to organisations that provide them with an opportunity to upgrade their existing skillsets. Cloud projects that focus on the latest technology such as IoT, AI, edge computing and advanced data analytics will most appeal to talent. Embrace diversity. According to WISE, women make up on 16 percent of IT professionals. However, research has shown that gender-balanced teams better adhere to project schedules, incur lower costs and achieve higher performance ratings. Addressing this imbalance will help to fix the cloud skills bottleneck and in turn improve the overall economy. Consider hiring untapped talent. Training schemes such as AWS re:Start are working to help organisations give military veterans relevant cloud-based foundation training and allowing them to show their potential to learn and progress in the space. Find talent with the right skills mix. Don’t just focus on finding talent that understand cloud technology and systems. They also need the soft skills required to solve problems, communicate and collaborate. The right blend of hard and soft skills will be increasingly valuable to your organisation. Experis are proud to partner with some of the most innovative and successful cloud organisations in the UK and beyond. These range from Cloud-Native FinTech SaaS start-ups to FTSE 100 service providers and Big Four consultancies. We have an excellent reach in local markets for cloud and infrastructure talent, from entry-level DevOps and cloud administration roles right up to enterprise architects, programme directors and CIOs/CTOs. To find out more about how we can support your business with talent acquisition for these specialist roles, get in touch.