Gartner Survey: CIOs say skills deficit of software engineers threatens blockchain technology implementation
Gene J. Koprowski May 14, 2018
A new report released yesterday by Gartner, Inc. (NYSE:IT) indicates that CIOs are struggling to implement visionary blockchain technology projects, due to difficulties in finding software engineers with the skills needed to work with the new cryptography-based security solution.
“The challenge for CIOs is not just finding and retaining qualified engineers, but finding enough to accommodate growth in resources as blockchain developments grow,” said David Furlonger, vice president of Gartner, and an IT fellow there.
According to the new study, which surveyed 293 chief information officers, many firms are already in short-term planning for blockchain projects. But, 23 percent of CIOs said that blockchain requires the “most new skills to implement of any technology area,” ever, while another 18 percent said that blockchain skills are “the most difficult” to find in any job market.
Rushing into blockchain deployments without significant resources in terms of talent could lead organizations to “significant problems“ of failed innovation, wasted investment dollars, rash decisionmaking and even an untimely rejection of this game-changing technology, said Furlonger.
CIOs also said that blockchain projects will change the operating and business models of most organizations, and they believe being ready and able right now to accommodate this requirement is vital for survival.
“Blockchain technology requires understanding of, at a fundamental level, aspects of security, law, value exchange, decentralized governance, process and commercial architectures,” said Furlonger. “It therefore implies that traditional lines of business and organization silos can no longer operate under their historical structures.”
Transition Time for IT
Other IT executives interviewed by Block.News said that developers need to “transition” their skills to blockchain technologies to remain competitive. But that requires some planning.
In an interview by e-mail, Chris Camacho, president & CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, concurred that there is a struggle to find qualified blockchain engineers.
Some CIOs are worried that employees will falsify their resumes, and that new hires may hype their skills in cryptography in order to get hired due to the urgency of HR needs by some employers.
A technology solution to that has already emerged: Vertalo, a new career web site, uses blockchain to allow employers to verify prospective job candidates entire career background and academic history.
That may well work. But maybe employers can enhance the skills of those they currently work with and avoid the hassle of vetting new hires.
Comacho said that the scuttlebutt in the industry is that this skills transition can take a little as three to six weeks for a seasoned programmer/developer. “We need to identify, train, and establish systems that help developers fill the demand for talent,” he added.
Another technology expert, Anoop Nannra, head of blockchain initiatives at Cisco, tells Block.News that it may be easier to train these current IT employees in cryptography skills than to find engineers through new job ads asking for them to come on board with these skills.
“When it comes to obstacles around blockchain implementation, there is definitely a skills shortage in the industry,” said Nannra, in an e-mail interview. “This is due to several different factors, the first being that there’s always been a tight competitive market for this type of technical expertise.”
What is more, as the technological landscape continues to evolve, there’s an increasing demand of engineering talent across all industries, making it even more difficult for blockchain implementation.
“Coupled with the talent that is fully engaged by the allure of initial coin offerings, the jobs of many recruiters and hiring managers in enterprises have become even more difficult in attaining the right talent. Furthermore, many organizations that look to accelerate their own internal blockchain projects typically tend to assume that they must also hire ‘blockchain experts.'” said Nannra.
Nannra also suggested that to address the current skills shortage, businesses should look deep into the heart of the technology community in their own firm, as they’ll find that there are other pools of talent that can be easily educated on blockchain, and that may be much easier and more cost-effective than trying to acquire new talent.
“This includes: identifying solid developers (internally) who understand real-time distributed systems, as well as those that understand how the internals of a database really works – beyond just knowing how to create tables, views or queries,” said Nannra.
Investing in current employees — through continuing education seminars, or college classes in crypto — may be vital to remain competitive for many businesses now with the emergence of blockchain.
“It’s also important to look for people that know how modern cryptography and key management systems work. By broadening the talent search, organizations are able to identify skills that are more readily available. This allows them to have the time and money to invest in people and bring them up to speed on blockchain basics – ultimately driving overall business growth and success,” said Nannra.
Business, corporate governance and strategic operating models, and designed and implemented pre-digital business will take time to re-engineer. This is because of the ramifications blockchain has concerning control and economics, according to the Garner survey.