A research report from analyst house Quocirca, entitled ‘In demand: the culture of online service provision’, reveals a significant disconnect between the emergence of Northern Europe’s service provider culture in businesses across the region and the availability of skilled individuals required to manage these ‘always-on’ networks.

More specifically in the UK, the report, commissioned by Citrix, supports the view that a service provider culture is emerging amongst UK businesses, with two-thirds of organisations (66%) seeing themselves as an online service provider. More than half (53%) provide online B2B services, 42% provide services direct to customers, 38% to partners and 20% provide to all three of these categories.

In line with this trend, the demand for skilled individuals required to manage the networks and service the 24/7 generation is also on the increase. However, 39% of respondents stated they found it difficult to find and retain people with the right skills for the network configuration and management their organisation requires. An additional 26% said they struggle to retain workers with the necessary skill set.

On-demand, in demand

With 35% of IT decision makers stating that ‘no one touches our network without the relevant accreditations’, finding the right people to service the ‘always-on’ generation seems to be one of the biggest problems when it comes to ensuring capable network and application platforms. 57% of companies with a service provision culture would pay more for candidates with advanced networking skills, and this figure was even higher for those that provided technology and comms services – 68%.

Managing growth, managing expectation 

The primary concern for businesses designing and implementing applications is uptime (with nearly 90% of respondents stating constant uptime to users was important/essential). User access management and usability also ranked highly across Northern Europe as application priority areas.

In response to these expectations, 37% of large organisations use Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) to manage their network and scale demand, and nearly half of those without an ADC plan to deploy one in the future. Looking at data for actual and planned deployment shows that 80% of service providers have or plan to deploy ADCs compared with just 43% of non-service providers. As such, the demand for qualified individuals to manage these growing networks will only increase further.

Ultimately, It’s clear the transition to a 24/7 online culture is placing new demands on organisations of all sizes. An enterprise network is becoming more than just infrastructure, it is evolving into a far more adaptable asset that has a role to play in the delivery of the services that flow through it. However, businesses need to firstly address the talent issue, ensuring they have the staff onboard with the right skills, before harnessing the network’s potential as a tool for strategic growth by moving forward with more flexible and scalable technology.

The full report is available for download now; click here to access it.