Across Asia-Pacific, there is an appetite to capitalise on what is being called an “innovation era.” Spurred on by events of the last few years, businesses are coming to the realisation that there is a lot that can be done with IT, both in terms of internal processes and its ability to drive improvements to the customer experience.
For CIOs, the challenge that they face in capitalising on the opportunity is that there is a massive IT skills shortage sweeping Asia-Pacific. The most recent Skillsoft Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report found that almost three in four IT decision-makers in the region (73 per cent) are facing critical skills gaps, and that wages had been pushed up by 10.2 per cent in just one year. For many businesses, particularly smaller enterprises, as much as they would like to invest in skills, it is expensive, if not unsustainable, to currently do so.
Rather than go without innovation, however, this shortage is leading to new opportunities for partners to engage even more deeply and strategically with their customers.
In a webinar hosted by foundry, Dell Technologies Asia-Pacific and Japan CTO, Andrew Underwood, highlighted how success in the channel now is about putting partners on the line in “pole position” to capitalise on this increased investment.
The renewed strength of the CIO
CIOs and other IT decision makers have the desire to upgrade outdated IT infrastructure, achieve transformation, and deliver innovation. However, in many cases, they also need to first address the foundations, and ensure that they have the right datacentre modernization strategies in place, are undertaking application modernization, and are effectively dealing with that technology debt and the legacy debt that their organisation has.
One advantage that CIOs now have in targeting these goals is that they can attack these challenges from a position of strength, and bring their IT providers and partners into higher-level conversations. Over recent years there has been a lot of pressure placed on CIOs. Through the pandemic they found themselves being highly reactive, and before that, the dominant conversation was that CIOs were having their budgets and roles challenged by other executives. One famous example of that was Gartner’s pre-pandemic predictions that the CMO would end up with a greater IT budget than the IT team.
However, emerging out of the pandemic, where IT proved its value to the health of organisations many times over, CIOs has found themselves in a newly strengthened position within their organisations, and the role of the channel is to assist them with delivering on the opportunity to take strategic opportunity of that prominence Underwood said. “There is a change in the perception and role and expectation of what the IT department and the CIO is expected to deliver on behalf of the other executives inside the business,” he said. “We're actually speaking to CIOs, who we're being tasked with solving business challenges that you wouldn't have thought of a decade ago.
“Historically the challenges would be answered with a need to upgrade IT infrastructure or modernise applications, but that’s not the case now. These are real business challenges that the company is looking at and the CIO is being tasked with solving these problems because IT is so intertwined with it.
What this means for partners is that there is a greater need to understand the customer’s unique needs than ever. “If you're speaking to the CIO of a hospital, for example, then rather than going in there and talking to them specifically about AI or a product, you might want to engage with them and get a better understanding of what some of the health objectives of that hospital might be, and how they relate to the IT department,” Underwood said. “For example, you might want to speak to a CIO of a hospital about some of the tasks that they have about reducing patient wait times, or better, improving patient outcomes.
“Meanwhile, in financial services, it might be talking to that CIO, about how they've going about identifying financial fraud, or what type of workloads they have about connecting customers to their data, and their expenditure and spending data.”
To help partners have these conversations, Dell has taken steps to streamline the technology discussion, Underwood said, helping partners to focus on business outcomes, rather than articulating the technology.
“You may not have the skill team members inside your organisation who have experience in artificial intelligence or edge or high-performance computing. But that's okay. We don’t want our partners to shy away from those conversations because of that,” he said. “So, what we've done is that we've made a number of investments ourselves to help our partners along this journey.”