Mainframe skills shortage: tackling a crisis

TRP: What impact do you think this shortage could have on businesses that use mainframes?

IC: The impact of the skills shortage could cause trouble in a number of ways, but the top concern for CIOs according to our latest research is increased application risk.

This tells us that CIOs are worrying about application downtime, which could negatively impact on end-user and customer experience; a key priority for online businesses.

The research also found that reduced productivity is also a key concern for CIOs, as there is a risk that while IT staff spend an increased amount of time firefighting issues in the mainframe, their focus is distracted from driving innovation, which could potentially damage the business.

An increase in project overruns was also raised as a concern, as CIOs fear that forecast timescales will no longer be met and IT inefficiency will increase as a result.

TRP: In your experience, have companies got this problem under control? Or do you think more needs to be done to address mainframe staff shortages?

IC: Despite the fact that CIOs are concerned about the skills shortage, our study found that almost half (40%) have no formal plans in place for dealing with the key risks associated.

Those who do not prepare for the looming shortage will be set to suffer, as modern applications will continue to call upon the mainframe to complete transactions for years to come.

It is clear that more needs to be done in order to stay afloat during this transition; taking the necessary steps early will certainly help to get this problem under control.

TRP: What steps can businesses take to ensure that the mainframe skills shortage does not negatively impact their business?

IC: In today's 24/7 connected world, businesses must ensure they possess the skills and the tools necessary to both deploy innovative new services and keep their IT systems up and running.

In a nutshell, businesses must modernise the mainframe development environment, so that they can help less experienced developers to find their bearings faster; alleviating the burden and reducing the risk that application downtime could hurt the business.

For example, by introducing more user-friendly dashboards with point-and-click functionality and using development and testing tools that provide deeper insight into how applications work, they can help modern development teams to get to grips with the mainframe with far greater speed and efficiency.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.