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Software’s Strategic Role in Addressing the Data Center Talent Shortage

Software solutions can play a crucial role in addressing the talent shortage and ensuring the resilience and sustainability of data center operations.

Data Center Knowledge

February 22, 2024

6 Min Read
Data center talent shortage illustration

The tech industry has always faced challenges in effectively staffing skilled professionals. This is particularly evident among data center operators. 

According to the 2023 Uptime Institute Global Data Center Survey, the data center industry has been plagued by a persistent staffing shortage for over a decade. The ongoing struggle to attract and retain skilled professionals is nothing new, but as data centers scale up to meet increasing workloads, the need for skilled professionals is intensifying. 

So, how can data center operators address the talent shortage while also maintaining uptime, controlling costs, and meeting the growing requirements of ESG reporting? Let’s start by looking at the key factors contributing to the talent shortage within the data center industry. 

Data Center Talent Shortage Factors

  • Rapid Growth in Capacity: The growing demand for data center services has led to a surge in job opportunities. As data centers expand to meet increasing workloads, the need for skilled professionals grows. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. According to McKinsey analysis, the US market alone is projected to reach a demand of 35 GW by 2030, up from 17 GW in 2022. 

  • Complexity of Roles: Data center operations are becoming more complex, especially with the integration of sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs. Technical, executive and sales roles require diverse and unique skill sets, making it challenging to find candidates with the right expertise. Many data center managers are concerned specifically about the availability of trained controls and monitoring staff, as projections indicate that the demand for these roles will exceed 165,000 full-time equivalents by 2025, an increase of over 4% from just four years ago.

  • Competition Among Companies: In a highly competitive industry, companies often face challenges related to staff retention. This is particularly evident in the data center community, where operators frequently seek to attract skilled employees from rival companies. The loss of experienced staff compounds the difficulties faced by organizations in finding qualified professionals to fill critical positions.

  • ESG Reporting Demands: ESG reporting is evolving rapidly with new proposals from the EU, US, and International Sustainability Standards Board. The EU's Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a major concern, impacting 10,000 companies globally starting January 2024. The rising emphasis on ESG reporting adds a layer of complexity to data center operations. Meeting sustainability goals and complying with reporting requirements require specialized skills, contributing to the talent gap. 

Related:Data Center Sustainability Predictions, Hopes, and Questions for 2024

Bridging the Talent Gap with Software

Related:Data Center Sustainability Predictions, Hopes, and Questions for 2024

Many companies and associations are stepping up to offer training programs and to get the word out to young professionals about this dynamic, lucrative industry. But in the meantime: what are data center operators to do? Particularly as their roles become increasingly complex and ESG reporting takes center stage. 

Savvy data center owners and operators have found that software plays an integral role in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the talent shortage. Innovative tools such as automation, machine learning and AI also help data center managers manage the nuances of keeping their data centers secure, cost-savvy and sustainable. Not only can software enhance operational efficiency, but it is also a strategic resource to help offset costs impacted by today’s talent shortage. 

Scaling to Meet Demand

Optimization software allows data centers to scale seamlessly as workloads increase. By managing thermal, power and capacity management, software has the power to reduce the burden on operational teams, enabling them to handle larger facilities without additional staffing needs. 

One example is AI-driven thermal optimization software, which provides data center managers with valuable insights regarding potential capacity constraints and thermal risks. By taking a proactive approach, this software enables strategic resource allocation planning, ensuring that existing teams can handle the growth while maintaining operational efficiency. These solutions serve as a valuable ally in overcoming the challenges associated with expanding data centers.

Simplifying Complexity

As data center operations grow in complexity, it's becoming harder for managers to find qualified professionals to fill important roles. Some software platforms address this through user-friendly interfaces that make it easy for staff members with different levels of technical expertise to understand tasks such as controls, monitoring, and reporting without requiring extensive and focused training. 

Software also helps reduce burdens on specialized staff by enabling efficient collaboration between technical, executive and sales roles. Additionally, team members with diverse skills can actively contribute to decision-making, allowing for a more flexible and responsive approach to changing operational needs. This collaboration enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of data center operations.

Addressing Competition Among Companies

To attract and retain skilled professionals, data center operators are incorporating cutting-edge technology into their operations. This commitment not only lures top talent but also fosters retention among skilled professionals. 

Recognizing that a supported workforce with manageable workloads is more likely to stay, data center operators have prioritized operational efficiency and automated tasks. This elevates job satisfaction and, consequently, bolsters staff retention. Professional development initiatives are also key to retaining talented individuals. Additionally, software platforms that facilitate continuous training and skill enhancement demonstrate an investment in workforce development, cultivating loyalty and long-term retention.

Streamlining ESG Reporting 

ESG reporting can be a manual and burdensome task, leading to employee burnout. However, there are software solutions available that automate the reporting process. This automation is particularly helpful when the company lacks expertise in controls and monitoring. 

By automating ESG reporting, teams can focus on strategic initiatives while ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations. This not only improves operational efficiency but also addresses the challenges associated with a shortage of trained staff. Additionally, optimizing data center operations for sustainability through ESG reporting software fosters a sense of purpose within the organization, enhancing employee engagement and loyalty.

Harnessing Software Solutions

It's clear that the demand for skilled professionals in the data center industry is increasing. Software solutions play a crucial role in addressing this talent shortage and ensuring the resilience and sustainability of data center operations.

By strategically adopting software, data center operators can navigate the talent shortage effectively. Through software, data center teams can simplify their operations and make them more efficient. This not only reduces costs but also allows operators to optimize their performance and uptime. And that’s not to say that software is a replacement for human intelligence; in fact, a strategic combination of well-managed, AI-driven software platforms and well-trained team members – the former empowering the latter to get their jobs done better and faster – is the key to staying relevant in an industry growing at warp speed. 

Steve Lewis is VP of US Sales and is heading up EkkoSense in North America as it continues its global expansion. Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Steve brings more than 20 years of experience in data center and IT channel sales to EkkoSense.

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