Address skilling to beat the chief barrier to cloud adoption

COVID-19 has been the Digital Transformation Officer for global enterprises, pushing them into cloud adoption. The mindset of organizations evolved, rapidly, in the last 14 months, to put hyper-scalers into their technology supply chain. This rush to cloudify has resulted in:

  1. The demand for reliable cloud expertise going up. This demand is for assessment and advisories from large enterprises. They have a cloud strategy in place along with the budgets but are stuck because they are unable to look at cloud implementations through the lens of risk, security and ROI.
  2. The realization that the overall cost of cloud is higher than what is commonly believed. The most commonly held belief is that cloud results in cost reduction. This is true of the long-term. In the short term, the paradox of cost results from the fact that exploiting cloud requires an optimization of technology – applications, data, networks and operating models—and benefits are tied to net spends.
  3. The lack of cloud talent being seen as a showstopper. Cloud skills are hard to find. The spectrum of work called for by cloud is diverse, encompassing infrastructure, migration, storage, networks, portfolio adaptability, SaaS, an understanding of cloud providers, serverless architecture, security, change management, DevOps, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, automation, etc. University cloud programs are not mature, businesses do not have adequate infrastructure such as labs for in-house training programs and there is uncertainty about regulatory readiness making customers nervous about where to keep their data as we evolve into a boundaryless paradigm.

According to Gartner, just public cloud end-user spending will grow 18.4% in 2021, to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020. NASSCOM data (from Zinnov) shows that demand for cloud skills will balloon, leading to a 39% increase in open positions. These figures indicate that CIOs don’t have a choice. They have to go ahead with cloud adoption with an eye on scalability, shorter deployment cycles, the ability to innovate, access to a rich application eco system, and push-button channel integration that will provide good market responsiveness.

But here is the truth: For every $100 they currently spent on on-premise, it will cost them just $30 for managed assets on cloud. This spells major savings, allowing organizations to release large budgets for investments in innovation programs. But none of this will be possible if skilling remains a challenge. Creating the right talent is the solution.

To achieve skilling at scale, we urgently need a variety of initiatives. These can be private, public or based on private-public partnership (PPP) models. This is where programs like NASSCOM’s ‘futureskills prime’ fit in. It addresses the problem of skilling by aiming to upskill 400,000 people over 3 years across 10 emerging technologies and 10 professional skills. The program uses a public-private partnership model for business success and content that is AI-curated and hand-picked (by industry SMEs) for learning success.

However, the goal of the futureskills initiative runs deeper than upskilling—it is aimed at creating competency standards (knowledge required to perform a job, key functions that need to be undertaken and the skills required to do this effectively) called National Occupational Standards (NOS). To support NOS, a common language is being created. This will provide a clear and shared understanding when jobs and roles are discussed across academia, industry and government.

We need dozens of such skilling initiatives. Without them, organizations will be left stranded. They will not have the talent pipeline which can respond to the accelerated demand for cloud. For the moment, the priority of every organizations with the ambition of riding the cloud wave should be to create the talent that will take them into the future.


  1. Gartner forecasts worldwide public cloud end user spending to grow by 18% in 2021 Future Skills Prime


Narasimha Moorthy
Vice President and Head of ADM Service Line
ITC Infotech


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