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For many years now Mint Jutras has been asking survey participants in its annual Enterprise Solution Study what they find appealing about software as a service (SaaS). We give them quite an extensive list of potential benefits and allow them to select as many as they would like. Usually, over a third will check off “We have limited IT resources and no interest in building IT staff.” This year 39 percent selected this as a potential benefit. So does this mean if you are a member of the IT staff in one of those companies you should be looking over your shoulder, waiting for the ax to fall? No. We find the move to the cloud is more likely to be good news for IT staff, freeing them up from the tedious work involved in supporting the company’s software and hardware infrastructure, allowing them to contribute more strategically to the organization.
To get a better sense of what actually happens to IT jobs in moving to a SaaS environment, starting last year, we added a very specific question: “What was the impact on your IT staff when you first moved to a SaaS environment?” The majority (59 percent) of those who are already running SaaS ERP in 2016 reported no job elimination (Figure 1), and have instead redeployed IT staff more strategically. That’s good news. And there is even better news if you are considering moving to the Plex Manufacturing Cloud. The percentage jumps to 93 percent amongst Plex Systems’ customers, an indication they use cloud ERP both as a spark to transform their businesses and also open new avenues for their best technical people.
While most would welcome the opportunity to elevate their position within an organization, this will not happen if IT staff become complacent. They must be proactive in embracing advances in technology and moving their skillsets forward. As an example, even though 93 percent of Plex customers did not reduce IT staffing levels, 25 percent did eliminate some IT staff. While at first glance these percentages might appear contradictory, we suspect those employees that were let go were replaced by those that demonstrated more strategic and/or up-to-date skills.
And what do companies do with those new skill sets? We live in an age where technology enables the capture and delivery of more data than ever before, resulting in the need for a new breed of data engineering and analytical skills. Manufacturers that address this need will realize the resulting performance and process improvement benefits that can drive business, and in parallel, personal success.
Companies running legacy solutions are often held hostage by those old, outdated technologies. This situation is only exacerbated when the skill sets of those maintaining these solutions have not kept pace. This can be a Catch-22 situation where IT staff is buried in dealing with the limitations of older systems at a time when technology is advancing more rapidly than ever before. Those who do not keep up will be at risk, while those who do keep pace help their companies break free from the stranglehold and become even more valuable. Will current employees have the desire, the drive and the aptitude to develop these new skills? These are questions each company and each individual will have to answer.