We conducted research across 120 Microsoft Partners to discover their greatest challenge. The second and third greatest were a skills shortage (19%) and maximising the use of talent (18%). Both issues related to resourcing.
Further analysis shows that Azure is the most difficult skill to source (see Chart below). This may be due to it being a relatively new technology (few experts) and because it is a central pillar of the Microsoft stack (big demand). There are a lot of empty seats in that department.
The good news is that research among our pool of Microsoft contractors shows Azure is a key focus for training and development – so we should begin to see more qualified freelance experts becoming available soon.
SharePoint and Office 365 also make the top four most difficult-to-find skills. This echoes research we conducted last year where the cloud skills shortage was listed as a challenge by Microsoft Partners. It seems there is a continuing deficit of these skills and an ongoing scarcity of Microsoft Dynamics experts.
What Microsoft skills have been the most difficult to source?
Solutions adopted by Partners to bridge the skills gap include technology training for permanent staff or using freelance consultants to satisfy a short-term need.
It should also be noted that Microsoft Partners were given the option in our research to state they had no plans for training – either because they had sufficient in-house skills or because of poor ROI. Yet only 4% of respondents stated they don’t have a technology training plan.
It would appear training programmes are a big part of the solution to skill shortages over the next 12 months and an example of how it can work is in our case study ‘Curo partners with Freedom Communications to provide in-house Microsoft training’.
Interestingly, another area of shortage is in Pre-sales Consultants. Although Solutions Architect was the most difficult role to fill (scoring 21% in our survey), Pre-sales Consultant was a close second with 19%.
Most Microsoft Partners view Pre-sales as a permanent job, but Curo Talent has supplied many trusted consultants to fulfil this role and there is a case study titled ‘How Phoenix evolved from software licensing to cloud subscription partnerships’.
The results of our research on Microsoft Partner cloud services are available in our report titled ‘MS Partner Technology Trends and Challenges’ due to be published on 20 September 2016.