Nick Lowe, Vice President of Sales, EMEA
If there’s one thing everyone working in the IT industry is familiar with, it’s the skills gap. The issue has been prevalent over the last few years, with businesses struggling to find and retain talent with the required level of technological expertise.
For example, 94% of employers believe the tech industry is facing a skills gap, while 43% of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) vacancies are proving to be hard to fill – primarily due to a shortage of applicants with the required skills and experience – according to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills.
In terms of specific areas, cybersecurity is particularly affected. The 2017 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Survey predicts that the industry is on pace to reach a workforce gap of 1.8 million by 2022, with a shortage of 350,000 cybersecurity personnel across Europe.
Simply put, the number of people entering the workforce with the required technical proficiency has failed to keep up with the increasing demand of technological development.
Clearly, the skills gap is still a major issue for organisations of all sizes, but it’s not the only expertise-related challenge that businesses and IT departments are having to deal with. As IT operators and security architects have become overworked, the issue of talent and time wastage has also become more and more prevalent.
What is talent wastage?
With security-skilled personnel proving to be in short supply, it’s essential that businesses ensure employees are working as efficiently as possible. However, too many organizations are guilty of wasting the valuable technology skills at their disposal.
The reality for the majority of businesses today is that their overstretched IT teams are swamped with avoidable IT issues, unscheduled activities and time-intensive administrative tasks that end up consuming a significant proportion of their time.
For example, research suggests that IT professionals spend an average of 29% of every working day reacting to unplanned incidents or emergencies, which equates to more than 14 weeks a year.
The other issue is that as networks become more complex, routine tasks take up more time than they should. Activities such as analysing and planning network changes, as well as fixing problems that arise due to policy misconfiguration, are extremely inefficient, resulting in IT and security teams becoming further stretched.
This is especially true for large enterprises, where corporate networks are constantly evolving and consist of an intricate mix of platforms and services that all have to be managed and secured.
The combination of these factors means that the technical skills of network security teams are not being put to optimal use and are in fact affecting operational effectiveness. Staff members’ talents – and time – are being wasted on mundane manual tasks.
So, what can enterprises do to make the lives of their IT personnel easier and ensure that their skills are not going to waste? Well, it all comes down to finding ways of minimising the amount of time being spent fighting fires and handling manual, time-consuming issues.
Automate the arduous tasks
Automation plays a central role. In many cases, the most arduous activities, such as firewall rule clean-up and server decommissioning, could be automated. This will create time for strategic projects that add real value to the business, such as hunting for advanced persistent threats (APTs).
Policy-driven automation will help network security teams become more efficient, with policy changes being implemented in minutes instead of days and security controls being tightened. Automation can also relieve the pressure of preparing for audits and reporting on compliance and ultimately reduce time spent managing security and troubleshooting connectivity across the hybrid network.
Enterprises therefore need to incorporate tools and solutions that streamline the management of security policies and automatically flag policy violations as they arise. This will significantly simplify the task for network security teams, enabling them to complete changes to the network in a fraction of the time – ultimately improving efficiency. Not only does it improve efficiency, it frees them up to perform more sophisticated functions that improve the business’ overall security.
What’s more, automation also reduces the risk of human error – meaning network security teams won’t waste time having to go back and fix misconfigurations – and is likely to result in more satisfied and productive employees.
Not only can automation help network security teams deal with the complexity of corporate networks, it can also eradicate human error, improve compliance, and ensure security keeps up with business agility and speed.
But most importantly, it can free up valuable resources – the most valuable resource being time – to focus on more complex tasks that are essential for revenue growth and directly impact the bottom line. This will enable IT talents to be optimized rather than wasted with both the business and employees reaping the rewards.