South Africa is currently experiencing a critical skill shortage of IT professionals.
The current economic crises has not changed this much. Based on latest statistics, fewer IT professionals are likely to be retrenched, when compared to other industries. During these difficult economic times companies look to Enterprise Architecture align IT and strategy - for this they require skilled Enterprise Architects. With budgets shrinking and the demand for innovative products and services on the increase, the demand for Enterprise Architects will continue to increase. Increased demand on an already limited resource pool will no doubt continue to increase the value placed on Enterprise Architecture skills. Will South African companies be able to afford these Enterprise Architects? Is there something that can be done to alleviate this problem?
Careercast did a survey and found that neither American students nor International students rank South Africa as one of the top destinations to start a career. This means that South Africa will not be able to fill this shortage with international resources, and will need to find innovative ways to keep and grow local Architecture talent.
From recent dealings with our clients it is evident that the staff attrition rate, especially in the Architecture department, has increased. Further complication to this problem domain is nature of the Enterprise Architects themselves. They are the ones who have a view of the whole organization, and a good understanding of how a company's vision is realized through its business processes and supported by its applications, information and technology. These individuals are in senior positions and come at a price.
Organizations employ Architects because over the years it has been proven that there are significant benefits in doing Architecture and lately in doing Enterprise Architecture. There have been countless articles written about why we need it. The company that has the best understanding of how their Vision, Goals, Strategy, People, Processes, Application and Technology work together as a single system will reap the highest rewards when the economic upturn begins. A company in this position will be able to adapt faster and easier to the situation giving them the competitive edge.
Now, we need to ask the questions? How do we find the talent and grow the relevant skill, and if we have the right talent how do we keep these individuals?
We have noticed that the best architects are not always the best traditional IT resources. Someone who may be an excellent Developer, Business Analyst or even Solution Architect, may not be a good Enterprise Architect. A good Enterprise Architecture has certain natural talents, such as big picture thinking, creative thinking, being able to work with concepts, being able understand concepts quickly and create relationships between these. An Enterprise Architect needs to have the ability to communicate well and bring concepts across clearly. Not just someone who can complete a Soduku puzzle. These are talents not skills that can just be learnt and are normally the domain of the right brain thinkers while many Top IT professionals are stronger left brain thinkers.