Why an IT Talent Shortage is Driving AI & Automation: Expert Analysis

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Reports reveal that nine out of ten companies in the U.S. and U.K. are facing IT talent gaps, so the shortage of skilled technology professionals is nothing new.

But now, it is not being aggravated by wave after wave of big tech layoffs but also by artificial intelligence (AI) breaking into the business world. Naturally, decision-makers looking to “do more with less” turn to AI in an effort to automate workplaces and reduce the need for large tech teams.

A new report from Auvik, titled 2024 IT Network Management, found that almost all (96%) of IT professionals are using at least one AI or machine learning tool today. Still, the report reveals that companies have a long way to go if they plan to overcome human talent gaps with AI and automation.

Techopedia sat with Steve Petryschuk, Director and Tech Evangelist of Auvik — a cloud-based network management software provider — and other experts to unravel how the AI era is changing tech job markets, challenges, and best practices.

Key Takeaways

  • Companies are investing in AI and automation to address the lack of skilled IT professionals.
  • While most companies are using AI and machine learning, implementing automation effectively is challenging. Many tasks still require human intervention.
  • Organizations should invest in training their existing workforce to bridge the skills gap. This includes creating feedback loops to ensure the training is effective.
  • The best tasks to automate are repetitive, well-defined processes that will free up IT staff for more strategic work.
  • Industries with strict regulations need to carefully consider the risks associated with automation to ensure they remain compliant.

Top IT Trend for 2024: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

While the ongoing debate on whether AI will replace humans in the workplace has migrated to discuss what specific jobs AI can replace — normalizing the impact of the technology — there is little evidence on how this transformation is really happening on the ground.

The new report from Auvik provides a glimpse into the early days of a new era of automation entering a new chapter in the history of industrialization — and found talent shortage as a motivating factor in automation.


“Driven by persistent talent shortages, resource constraints, and the complexity of managing numerous tools, automation is emerging as a critical solution for enhancing end-user experiences and bridging the gap for both MSPs and internal IT departments.”

…But Automation is Proving Difficult to Implement

Aukic’s survey reveals that almost all companies are using either AI or machine learning (ML and, compared to 2023, 24% more say they have planned automation investments.

But no value comes without challenges, and companies are realizing that automating human talent is not as easy as it sounds. Aukic breaks it down.

“On average, 29% of network and SaaS-related tasks are still done mostly or completely manually.”

Additionally, 64% of IT teams report spending 50% of their working hours resolving end-user requests.

The dominant shortcut that companies take to deal with talent shortages is outsourcing work, with nearly three out of four respondents delegate tasks to external organizations and managed service providers (MSPs).

Workers in Trenches Are Still the Closest to Problems and Solutions

Petryschuk of Auvik spoke about the gaps in visibility between IT operations and management.

“While most of us run to dashboards and reports to help us understand the state of our IT operations (and these are helpful) the team in the trenches is closest to the daily operations problems.

“There may be knowledge the technicians have on the state of the operations that management isn’t aware of — and they need to know”.

Petryschuk explained that management, being responsible for the bigger picture, may have cross-functional knowledge or a vision to share with the IT operations teams.

This vision can improve the confidence of the operations team responsible for keeping things running smoothly. Petryschuk said that organizations looking to address these gaps should consider regular connection and engagement points and ensure there is a respectful and trusting environment for feedback to flow both ways.

At the presentation of the Auvik report, CEO Doug Murray, spoke about how the situation affects tech workers.

“So many IT (teams) are understaffed and overburdened, and this is causing a rift within organizations of how end-user satisfaction is prioritized. 46% of C-suite executives list customer satisfaction as the most important metric, while only 26% of technicians echoed this sentiment.”

The Risks of Allianating Talent and the Big Costs of Automation Errors

A late 2023 Avanade report found that 64% of business and IT leaders believe that AI will maintain or increase the number of human roles at their organization in 2024. However, and only half of employees believed their work was safeguarded by their organization.

Chris McClean, Senior Director, Global Lead, Digital Ethics at Avanade — provider of cloud and advisory services across the Microsoft ecosystem — referred to the Avanade survey and how employees feel about automation.

“In Avanade’s survey of 3,000 workers in enterprises around the world, only 52% of respondents said that they were confident their job was safeguarded as the organization adopted new AI tools, meaning close to half thought their job could be eliminated or substantially modified by these new technologies.”

“Employees that see automated tools being deployed across the organization might be nervous that their own job is on the line.”

McClean warned about the risks of automation. “There’s also a risk of crucial knowledge not being adequately passed down from current to future leaders in the organization.

“There may be ways to automate more mundane tasks, but institutional expertise can be critical in situations where things don’t go as planned.

“Automation is rarely helpful in those cases. If a substantial amount of work is automated, there will be fewer employees to carry the mantle of knowledge, not to mention the passion and care that goes into keeping an organization thriving in difficult times.”

Finally, there’s a risk not just that automated systems make big mistakes, but rather that they make many small, perhaps imperceptible mistakes over time.

McClean mentioned cases like when the Michigan State Unemployment Office and the Dutch Tax Authority both implemented automated tools that mistakenly flagged tens of thousands of applicants as fraudulent, leading to devastating outcomes for families and individuals, many of which could not be reversed when they were discovered.

Automating Securely with Limited Resources

The Auvik report says that with limited resources, the emphasis is on automation.

Techopedia asked Petryschuk from Auvik what the key criteria for prioritizing tasks or processes within an IT department would benefit most from automation initiatives.

“The best tasks to automate are those that are both well-defined, well-documented processes and ones that will lift the largest burden from the team.

“[Automation] it starts with an assessment of the current manual processes that the team has — and if standard processes aren’t even documented, then start there.”

Routine tasks such as collecting an updated asset inventory for an audit, rotating passwords regularly on workstations for PCI compliance, and tasks that typically require a higher level of skill are all opportunities to automate, according to Petryschuk.

McClean from Avanade warned that organizations often miss “the point” when automating —organizations often tout the idea of having a human-centric approach to decisions, and their annual reports highlight employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction as top priorities.

“If that’s the case, then decisions involving automation should consider ways to improve the experiences and well-being of employees, customers, and other affected stakeholders. It’s far too common that we see decisions that look only at cost analysis and ease of implementation.

“It’s important to have guiding principles for these kinds of prioritization decisions.”

Engage with Your IT Teams when Developing Automation Plans

Petryschuk highlighted the importance of engaging with IT teams when developing automation plans.

“Ask your technicians what tools they use daily. What tools do they spend the most time in? This is a great starting point to understand the functionality that they need to perform their job.”

Companies should also explore the friction points in those applications.

“What problems can’t be solved within one tool — or what problems can’t be solved with any of their existing tools?” Petryschuk asked. “Those are the first areas to improve the end-user experience.”

Automating Safely in Highly Regulated Industries

From those working with federal agencies to finance, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare, compliance demands for some specific industries are becoming increasingly challenging driven by the ever-evolving legal landscape.

These organizations, bounded by laws such as the General Data Protection Act, the new EU AI Act, new SEC rules, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), and other regulations stand to benefit from automation but also face increased risks.

Techopedia reached out to Conno Christou, CEO and Co-founder at Keragon — an automation platform for healthcare — to get the inside view of automation within highly regulated industries.

“To mitigate the risks associated with neglecting network planning and ensure it is a strategic priority, organizations should commit to conducting regular security audits.”

Christou explained that audits can help identify vulnerabilities and ensure that the network aligns with security standards and business needs. “Investing in network management and monitoring tools can also provide real-time insights into network health and performance,” Christou added.

For Christou, it is also important to continuously train IT staff on the latest network technologies and security practices.

“The lack of proactive planning, spotted by Auvik’s report, can also lead to unexpected costs; emergency expenditures become necessary when systems fail, and opportunities for cost savings through newer technologies are missed.”

“Moreover, many industries are bound by strict regulations regarding data and network security, and a lack of network planning can result in non-compliance, attracting hefty fines and penalties.”

5 Ways to Pin Down IT Processes When Automating

The Auvik report found that despite the economic uncertainties, 86% of those surveyed reported increased IT budgets for 2024, with nearly 50% saying they expect a 20% increase in budgets compared to 2023. The areas of investment identified include cloud security, network security, and management.

Christou from Keragon says organizations can follow five key points that will help them establish IT processes that drive benefits from automation.

  1. High repetitiveness: Organizations should identify frequently performed, repetitive tasks that consume significant time. Automating these tasks, even if they only save minutes individually, yields a substantial cumulative benefit by freeing up valuable human resources for more strategic endeavors.
  2. High possibility of human error: Businesses should prioritize automating processes prone to human error, which can lead to downtime or significant issues. Automation standardizes these tasks, mitigating mistakes caused by fatigue or lack of focus and ultimately enhancing process reliability.
  3. Handling data with high volume: Large-scale data management with real-time processing demands are prime candidates for automation. Human limitations make it nearly impossible to monitor and analyze thousands of events per minute, accurately identify anomalies, and then escalate them efficiently.
  4. Critical for compliance: Organizations should prioritize automating processes critical for regulatory compliance. This approach ensures consistent adherence, generates comprehensive audit logs for automated tasks, and bolsters process integrity. Consequently, compliance teams are freed from repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on strategic initiatives demanding critical thinking.
  5. Reduced training time for new team members: Automating high-turnover processes streamlines onboarding for new hires. By automating these tasks, organizations can minimize time spent training on repetitive procedures, allowing new employees to ramp up faster and contribute more effectively.

The Bottom Line

The IT talent shortage is a pressing concern for businesses around the world. While automation offers a tempting solution, it’s important to approach it strategically.

Automation is complex. Organizations should not expect AI to be a silver bullet. Implementing automation effectively requires careful planning and consideration of human expertise.

Upskilling is also crucial. It’s vital to go beyond automation and invest in training workforces to bridge the skills gap. This not only empowers workers but also fosters a sense of loyalty. The future of IT work involves a collaborative approach between humans and AI.


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Ray Fernandez
Senior Technology Journalist
Ray Fernandez
Senior Technology Journalist

Ray is an independent journalist with 15 years of experience, focusing on the intersection of technology with various aspects of life and society. He joined Techopedia in 2023 after publishing in numerous media, including Microsoft, TechRepublic, Moonlock, Hackermoon, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur, and ServerWatch. He holds a degree in Journalism from Oxford Distance Learning and two specializations from FUNIBER in Environmental Science and Oceanography. When Ray is not working, you can find him making music, playing sports, and traveling with his wife and three kids.