Competent staff as a key to success in the ICT industry

Published: March 14, 2022

Competence, creativity, openness to new challenges - these are the key advantages of Polish workers in the ICT industry.

ICT industry is one of the fastest growing economic branches in Poland and a global showcase for our country. ICT specialists have also passed the exam in the new market reality caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

The massive potential of Polish workers in the ICT industry is proven not only by successes of Polish companies, the dynamic development of the entire industry and the popularity of Polish specialists among foreign companies. This state of affairs is also reflected in the regular triumphs of Polish pupils and students in international competitions for programmers and specialists on robotics. Moreover, growing demand for IT specialists causes that growing number of corporations are opening their offices in Poland. Only in 2021 Graphcore, a British company, American company Klika Tech or German pharmaceutical giant Bayer (opened the so-called Digital Hub) decided on such investments. In addition, the German group PSI Software expanded its team of Polish programmers.

Remote work model

In the last two years, the biggest challenge faced by companies and organizations in the ICT industry has been the shift to a remote or hybrid work model. Although this process had begun much earlier, it accelerated rapidly with the outbreak of the coronavirus. There are many indications that along with the withdrawal of sanitary restrictions, this model will be strongly preserved. Company owners and employees have quickly learned working in a new mode without sacrificing the quality of their services.
The basis of remote work is the use of technology, which allows, on the one hand, efficient remote communication, on the other hand - access to the company’s resources, and on the third hand, the possibility of contact with the company's environment, with customers and contractors. In all these instances, the ICT industry has passed the exam. The small percentage of companies that struggled or were not flexible enough will have to quickly "catch up" to the vast majority setting the current trends.

- The pandemic situation has revealed what are the strategic competence needs and critical areas of businesses operation in the telecommunications and cybersecurity sector, as well as in many other industries. Study "Competency Needs in the Context of the Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic," found that the most important action for companies that was taken in response to the pandemic results was to update their cybersecurity policies, that is, developing and implementing procedures adjusted to the ongoing situation and its effects. Now that matters are slowly stabilizing, the focus has to be on making sure that such documents are properly updated and can improve the organization's operations in the future as well. The manners of managing during a crisis should become the foundation of each company's operation, especially in the face of possible subsequent virus waves - says Wiesław Paluszyński, President of the Polish Information Processing Society, Vice President of the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

Uncertainty in HR departments

HR uncertainty of companies, the need for development of remote customer support - these are the main conclusions that can be drawn from the report "Competency Needs in the Context of the Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic", drawn up by the Branch Competency Council for IT and the Branch Competency Council for Telecommunications and Cyber Security. For the purpose of this document, among others, 259 interviews were conducted with entrepreneurs, managing directors and lower-tier employees from the ICT and TCB sectors.

During the coronavirus crisis, entrepreneurs surveyed within the framework of the above mentioned report recommend creating contingency plans for managing the company, assuming various situations related to the level of employment (e.g., planning possible actions/solutions in case of the need to reduce employment, which may be related to cost reduction in a coronavirus crisis situation).

A good example of remote customer service development is mBank, which as one of the first banks in Poland, paving paths into the cloud, adapting the offer to the current e-needs of customers as well as related regulations. Among other things, the bank trained and then made available to over 8,3 thousand of its employees modern tools for communication and cooperation in the public cloud.

Another example is Revolut, which has implemented an aggregate accounts system. The service allows adding accounts of other institutions, viewing the balance and transaction history. The solution was prepared on the basis of the possibilities offered by the PSD II directive and the so-called open banking idea. The service is available to clients of four banks in Poland: mBank, ING, Pekao and Santander.

Automation of business processes

The dynamic development of remote work models has also affected business processes and management strategies of companies. They require automation, especially in contacts with customers. This is where solutions for digitizing all information and documents come in handy, as well as the development of competencies related to security. Many companies have therefore decided to implement solutions related to chat-bots, which increase the number of handled inquiries five times, and from the area of robotic process automation, so that customers themselves can join in the activation of services, initiate its operation and fill out forms with data necessary to quickly handle a given matter. For example, already in April 2020, Comarch launched a new cloud-based platform, Comarch Loyalty Cloud, designed handle increasing customer involvement. Comarch Loyalty Cloud enables companies to bypass the time-consuming implementation process and gaining quick access to a user-friendly interface for building and managing personalized loyalty programs, which also allows for real-time monitoring of customer engagement.

The new role of DevOps and BigData analysts

Over the past two years, we've seen that companies and organizations need highly specialized professionals in the areas of cyber security and data-to-cloud migration, so it's no surprise that positions for DevOps or broader cyber security engineers have been the most popular ones. Forecasts shows that this trend will continue at least for now, so it is still worth training in that scope and improve your competencies. BigData analysts will equally be in demand on the labor market, since all developed tools, products or services will require their skills. Mobile specialists, frontend and backend developers will also benefit from increased popularity.

- Ensuring security of data, applications and networks in connection with the introduction of remote working and the provision of remote services, and above all the uninterrupted operation of the organization itself, are currently the greatest challenges for proper functioning of the company, also from a legal standpoint. Therefore, it is worth taking care in the area of employee competence to provide adequate training to eliminate any deficiencies in this area - according to Xawery Konarski, Vice-President of the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

In turn, conclusions from Microsoft's "Digital Future Index" show that the most popular courses in Poland are in the area of Security and Compliance - the number of their participants has tripled since the last year (increase by 205%). There is also a dynamic increase in the number of participants of training courses in Modern Work (increase of approx. 69%), Data and AI (52%) and Digital Application Innovation (21%). The above mentioned report also shows that Polish companies have a higher level of IT talent employment (35 percent above the average) when compared to the CEE region.

The rapid increase in demand for knowledge and development of IT competencies in Poland is also confirmed by the data from Microsoft. Since the announcement of its large investment in Poland's Digital Valley (20 months ago), the American digital giant has trained as many as 200 000 Polish IT specialists. This is over 4 times more than initially expected.

Equally interesting information can be seen in the report "Competencies in IT. Perspectives of candidates, specialists, and recruiters," prepared by and SWPS University. Candidates for work in this sector indicated Python (49%), Java (44%), SQL (36%) and JavaScript (31%) as the most useful technologies for IT career development. Interestingly, persons holding at least a junior position in IT provided very different answers. Their preferences were: SQL (46%), JavaScript (37%), Python (31%) and Java (27%). Most likely, such differences are due to a significant disproportion in knowledge between job candidates and employees.

How to keep specialists?

Since the Polish ICT sector is ranked among the top in the world, for many years it has been struggling with the drainage of the best specialists, who are offered better working and living conditions by foreign corporations. Thus, many domestic companies are struggling with shortages of personnel and the challenge of how to keep their experts.

Therefore, in search for candidates for vacancies, organizations must also take into account persons just entering or switching their occupation to IT. Large staffing needs in the ICT branch force the companies to increasingly have to take into account in their recruitment processes candidates who are just entering the labor market, as well as people who plan to change their field of work. For certain, there will also be positions for beginners.

Companies have to compete fiercely for the best specialists, e.g. by outbidding each other to provide additional bonuses, benefits, allowances. Additional insurance, medical packages, specialized training, subsidies to lunches or even shopping assistant who will deliver purchased goods to the door of the employee's home are already standard in many companies.

On the other hand, we have bear in mind that shortages in the ICT industry induce positively increased competition and creativity in action among companies, interested in attracting the best employees. Thanks to the above factors, among others, ICT is one the most future-oriented direction on the labor market with even more growth potential.

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