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Is Britain’s technology landscape advancing too quickly?

Martin Musselwhite explains what the IT sector can do to keep up

A report published by Tech Nation in 2018 identified Britain as one of the world’s leading investors in digital technology – trumped only by China and the United States. 

However, as the nation’s digital landscape continues to advance at a rapid pace, it is highly challenging for the workforce responsible for deploying this technology to keep up.

Britain’s digital revolution is skyrocketing ahead. While these advancements sound positive, the results of a Curo Talent survey suggest that this rapid progression could cause challenges. 

Surveying a pool of Microsoft Partners, 33% of respondents stated that the country’s rapidly changing technology landscape will be their greatest challenge in 2019.

Encompassing some of the leading technology firms in Britain, the opinion of Microsoft’s community of partners presents an informed snapshot of the state of the industry. 

Concerns about fast-paced technological advancements were only exceeded by the uncertainty of Brexit. 36% of respondents named Britain’s exit from the EU as the biggest challenge for 2019.

As a close second to Brexit, a notoriously precarious subject for the IT sector, the changing technology landscape is clearly a prominent concern for tech companies. 

In fact, apprehension about Britain’s pace of technological change is proving to be a consistent worry for the sector, being noted as the greatest challenge for 26%t of Microsoft partners, in a similar poll from 2016. 

Britain’s uptake of new technology isn’t slowing down. Considering the nation’s speed of advancement, it is simply not feasible for IT workers to familiarise themselves with every new development in tech. 

Ultimately, in a sector so complex and diverse, becoming a jack of all trades isn’t an option for IT workers. 

However, some Microsoft Partners are bypassing this predicament by becoming drivers of their own technology, rather than passengers.

For instance, several Microsoft Partners are developing their own intellectual property (IP) to stay ahead of the curve. 

Using Microsoft tools as the foundation, building customised IP enables the commercialisation of solutions that partners may already be using. 

What’s more, according to figures published by Microsoft, the partners that are monetising their own IP are overall, valued between five and ten times higher than those who do not.

However, there are of course limits to the technological knowledge and advancements of a single IT worker or organisation. To adequately serve Britain’s digital appetite, Microsoft Partners and the wider IT community should be prepared to foster more alliances and partnerships.

Rather than turning down business they cannot fulfil due to lack of expertise in a specific technology area, organisations should investigate whether the required skillset is available elsewhere. 

At Inspire 2018, Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft,  encouraged Microsoft Partners to build relationships with each other and share expertise, risk and the workload. 

For instance, a partner that specialises in Microsoft SharePoint could collaborate with workers that boast knowledge in other areas of Microsoft technology, such as Dynamics 365 or Azure. 

The expertise required can also come from IT contractors or freelancers. There is no reason that organisations cannot buy these skills into the project on a short-term basis. 

By establishing a relationship with an elite IT recruitment agency, like Curo Talent, this process needn’t be complex or longwinded. Not only does this avoid the ordeal of turning down business but can also foster prosperous relationships.     

In an industry experiencing an ongoing shortage of talent, establishing these relationships will continue to prove invaluable. 

Unsurprisingly, the skills shortage was also noted as a concern for Microsoft Partners during Curo Talent’s survey, with 19% naming it as a challenge.

While Tech Nation’s 2018 report celebrates Britain as a world leading investor in digital technology, without the talent to adequately deploy and maintain these tools, the country is at risk of hindering its technological progress.

Martin Musselwhite is Business Area Lead for Microsoft Partners at recruitment agency CuroTalent.

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