Leadership and Staffing Challenges brought on by Digital Acceleration and the New Economy

Uptime Institute published the People Challenge, a Global data center staffing forecast 2021 -2025. The study reports that in every region of the world data center capacity is being dramatically expanded in, out of historic proportions. These shifts require people & the availability (or lack) of specialist staff. These ongoing pressures will be an increasing concern for all types of data centers from hyperscale to small private enterprise facilities.

The research shows a proportion of IT and data center managers globally are having difficulty finding qualified candidates. In fact, the study shared that the number of open jobs has risen 50% in 2020. The percentage reported in 2018 was only 38%.

While there is hope that innovative, emerging technologies to manage and operate facilities will reduce staff burdens over time, Uptime expects that their effort will be limited at least until 2025. This research highlights a staffing demand that has been accelerated as a result of the Pandemic and overall industry growth in 2020 that is unprecedented.

Another key finding of the research expected to affect Senior leadership roles is that of an aging workforce, especially in large and mature data center markets in the US & Western Europe. There is a concern that many employees are due to retire around the same time causing a surge in demand at the senior level.

With a year of political & social disruption as well as increased regulatory standards around the environment & sustainability, a consistent theme has emerged. What senior level strategies need to be put in place to address the concerns brought on by the “new economy.” Firms are tasked to implement new organizational strategies that can & will address the fundamental changes & shifts brought on by digital acceleration. Data center operators & enterprise firms will also need to balance out their efforts with creating new networks & people outreach strategies to address succession planning to deal with a surge of retired senior leaders as well as skill shortages.

Questions to ponder?

  • Leadership & succession planning – with many senior leaders retiring, are organizations incorporating a phased in approach with interim leadership models & proper succession plans.
  • Digital Acceleration – What are the new technologies in 2021 to support a post pandemic data center environment, are staffs equipped with the training manage the change effectively
  • Diversity and inclusion – Is there enough openness when it comes to resume (CV) reviews and candidates? Are employers looking at capabilities and unique skills of the individual versus their past history?
  • Diversity & Inclusion at the board level, does it reflect today or yesterday? Are their diverse faces at the table or a homogenous group of men that have followed one another from previous companies?

Leadership in the 21st century requires a global perspective, transparency & leaders who can see the future, embrace diversity & who dare to be different. The pandemic & racial equality protests have made many firms more determined to create boards with diverse faces which is the upside of the disruption & volatility in 2020. It is evident from the amount of changes affecting staffing that greater investment, more training & more creative approaches to employment hiring will be needed moving into 2021 & beyond.

Portman Partners, is a global leader in Executive Search is studying these trends in the digital infrastructure sector to better understand their client and candidate requirements.