Reshape the workforce: reskill, redirect, redeploy

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What’s stopping companies from pursuing automation? The answer is DevOps, or rather, a fear that in order to facilitate DevOps culture, businesses must reduce headcount and risk losing valuable talent. In fact, four in ten firms surveyed say their engineers and operators assume automation means job losses. Is this always the case?

In our 2018 study The Automation Advantage, we surveyed 415 global IT executives using cloud automation at varying stages of maturity. The results presented a clear divide: “Fast Movers” (the 20% most advanced in applying automation) and “Followers.”

Having seen the speed at which cloud-native companies can shift from concept to reality, enterprise organizations are turning to automation and in turn, DevOps, to enable a more agile, flexible, and innovative workforce. And it’s working too: 75% of Fast Movers have improved revenue and profitability, 86% say customer experience has benefitted, and 80% report greater workplace agility.

So, what’s stopping others from pursuing automation? The answer is DevOps, or rather, a fear that in order to facilitate DevOps culture, businesses must reduce headcount and risk losing valuable talent. In fact, four in ten firms surveyed say their engineers and operators assume automation means job losses.

Is this always the case? No, and here’s why…

New talent for greater value

While automation requires a change in business composition, this doesn’t necessarily equate to a change in size. Instead, the introduction of a holistic and collaborative culture such as DevOps opens up new opportunities for the workforce, and new jobs for advanced IT and programming specialists (demand for these roles could grow by as much as 90% by 2030).

One Fast Mover we surveyed says, “By far the most important gains they [Fast Movers] seek are the freeing-up of resources to focus on higher-value activities, and faster deployment of applications and provisioning of infrastructure.” And the evidence is there to back it up, with 59% of Fast Movers having redeployed engineers to focus on new skills and development, instead of reducing headcount.

Vertical focus

Networking equipment provider Cisco Systems’ technology team underwent a major structural change in 2017, which saw siloed roles broken down in of a business-wide vertical shift enabled by DevOps.

Under this new structure, everyone works within the same pillar, enabling its architects, designers, engineers, and management to drive and define everything – with software at the core. In addition to greater speed and innovation, the new structure eliminates the need for staff to fight over resources as software code is developed collaboratively and deployed continuously.

“We hire people based on their ability to learn and their capacity for change, as opposed to what they know at the moment. That’s also the way we’ve retained much of our talent.”

Jonathan Miranda, Manager, Cisco IT

The cultural shift fostered by automation can be a shock to the system, and while it doesn’t present a threat to your workforce per se, those who refuse to pursue and embrace the opportunities, benefits, and changes enabled by automation do risk being left behind.

Facilitating DevOps

Changing the way in which people work – alone or together – is where the essence of DevOps lies, and in turn, where automation succeeds.

As we covered in Cloud Native Comes of Age, DevOps doesn’t happen overnight, and IT leaders will be expected to facilitate a cultural shift that values formal and informal collaboration across development, testing, and deployment. This includes building small-scale pilots before scaling up, as well as adapting operating models to enable closer collaboration between IT and the wider business.

Only 8% of Fast Movers say they lack the skills necessary to succeed with automation, a promising figure shared by most executives interviewed. And while the shift of skills and talent is no doubt a formidable proposition, a DevOps culture makes all the difference in easing the rollout.

Let automation shine

By automating mundane everyday tasks, your people are free to pursue higher-value tasks such as writing more and better code, expanding QA test coverage, and empowering infrastructure brokers. This is a positive opportunity, not just for your teams, but the for the business at large. And it’s through this collaboration between IT and the wider business where the automation advantage really shines.

Next Steps

To learn more about the importance of DevOps, contact us for a friendly chat.

Get the full report

To learn more about automation and its role in enabling innovation, read The automation advantage.

To benchmark your own organization – and find out whether you’re a Fast Mover or a Follower – take our survey

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