The skills risk in upgrading to SharePoint 2013

I was recently asked an interesting question in response to Office 2013 going to RTM, and I thought it would be worth sharing my thoughts.

The question is “has anyone internal come up with a “key reasons” to upgrade”

2013 is a game changer, it’s moved the product firmly into the realms of holistic strategy and should be thought about in line with a wider services organisational strategy. If you didn’t already know this, then you need to start rethinking the market value of this product set. There is no one compelling reason to upgrade – there are many reasons, however it all depends on the client, their internal and external environment and what their roadmap looks like and how it can be influenced by people like us.

I’d be looking at better SaaS opportunities, ROI from lower storage consumption and exploitation of cloud based technologies, better redundancy opportunities than 2010/2007, higher ROI from social productivity, consumption of widening third party marketplace tooling, ROI from technology consolidation and realigning licence cost spending, ROI from vendor streamlining and simplified SLA legalities, reduction in network traffic, BYOD support and wider and enforced compliance opportunities across the MS Suite, major skills refresh opportunities to name a few quite compelling reasons. There are also opportunities for relearning on existing clients, and for us to help them structure their internal support teams better in line with tech refresh.

This is an opportunity for those working in this space to start researching how they would answer a question like that in their own client environment, for while most reasons can be based on ROI or defined strategy – the skills shortage around these opportunity areas will impact every organisations ability to deliver and introduce risk, it all needs to be managed. That’s where we as consultants bring value. Added to that, you’re individual value will likely increase dramatically quarter 1 next year if you understand the things I think are important above.

Just to emphasise that, the 10 most in demand skills this year oddly map quite well to the compelling reasons why you would upgrade – impacting an ability to actually upgrade clients even if they want to do it:

64% of businesses in a recent survey plan a major IT purchase or upgrade in 2013. Ok, it’s only a number but shortage skills are going to significantly impact that ability to perform work so we must be ahead of the curve in at least understanding that, and reacting to it for our clients.

1.Programming & Application Development 60% of the IT executives plan to hire developers in 2013. The new 2013 app model will make SharePoint developers somewhat invaluable.

2.Project Management More large-scale technology upgrades, plus increased project complexity due to the connectivity of modern applications, is bolstering demand for experienced project managers. 40% of the tech execs plan to bring on new project managers in 2013. SharePoint 2013 projects are about to get significantly more complex with the integration of cloud and SaaS forming an integral part of any 2013 enterprise architecture.

3.Help Desk & Technical Support Deploying new systems means more help desk technicians will be needed to handle increased service call volume. As clients move to 2013, professional services organisation are going to have to prop up a widening skill shortage in the office 2013 support space, those with 365 skills will be in strong demand.

4.IT Security Demand for IT security specialists continues to increase in scope and complexity; add to this the inherent risk associated with new technology deployments and it’s no wonder IT security will remain a top concern for managers in 2013. As we move to a claims based model across 2013 environments between different authentication zones skills of people who understand this will be in short supply.

5.Business Intelligence Proliferation of cloud-based storage solutions means organizations can capture and retain more data than ever before. We have a big data problem emerging and these skills are rare in the market place to begin with – it will only get worse with demand profile expected to hike in what’s called the 2013 BI Stack. Understanding the opportunity around Microsoft business intelligence technologies: data-mining, reporting, online analytical processing, analytics, performance management, benchmarking and predictive analysis for smarter decision-making and increased performance will be in high-demand at large enterprises in both 2010 and 2013, but you only get the storage reductions and consolidated Enterprise Search natively with 2013.

6.Cloud & SaaS An understanding of the office 365 2013 environment is going to be critical. I am about to beging advising one huge client on migratinhg from in-house Product X to on-prem 2013 via office 365 (2010). Software as a service experts will see record demand in 2013 and understanding how cloud SLA’s work is an art form.

7.Virtualization Improved ROI, efficiency and availability of IT resources make virtualization a critical component of modern IT strategy and a critical understanding for 2013 designs.

8.Networking There will always be demand for skilled and experienced SharePoint design specialists to understand the impact of traffic management on design decisions made about a 2013 platform shape.

9.Mobile Apps & Device Management Native support for most mobile OS’s from SharePoint 2013 will see demand for this with our clients spike. It’s fairly easy to predict a surge in the whole BYOD market. We must be ahead of this in terms of our individual skills and our ability to respond to our clients questions, as they will be looking at this given natural BYOD proliferation.

10.Data Center Numerous IT organizations and staffing firms have reported a significant skills gap in this area highest levels within the organization. The market still expects to see a huge growth in on-prem SharePoint, particularly with 2013 we’ll see an explosion of hybrid farms consuming internal data centre as a service and external SaaS. We need to be in a position to advise on this.

Each of these shortages and demands maps back to the main ROI reasons why an organisation would upgrade, I can see a convergence between shortage skills and reasons to upgrade coming to a head and we need to be prepared for it.