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Digital Security Report: How Talent Shortages and Sky High Salaries Can Impact Your Business

on July 15, 2016

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We live in a big data-fueled world, and businesses that leverage it best are the ones succeeding. On the other hand, there's nothing that can cripple an organization faster than a security breach or data loss, which is why digital security professionals are more in demand than ever before. It’s just like Jason Hoffman, CSO at marketing automation software vendor Marketo, told CIO.com: "I don’t think anyone in 1998 could have predicted how important security would be today. Company executives and their boards are more acutely aware that security is not just an IT problem but it’s a business problem.”

And a business problem it is, as security is becoming an integral component of the business world, regardless of sector. For Hoffman, transitioning from his job as an internal auditor to security more than 18 years ago, he says, "was probably the best decision I made in my career." 

The good news for digital security professionals like Hoffman is the demand should continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Improving cybersecurity ranked third among CEOs' goals in a survey of IT executives for CIO.com's 2016 State of the CIO report, just behind completing a major enterprise project and reaching a specific revenue goal. Those same IT executives reported that security is among the top technology initiatives driving IT investment (29 percent), nearly equal to cloud computing (30 percent) and big data/business analytics (27 percent). 

Not Enough Talent to Go Around

For talented IT security professionals, this demand equates to big bucks and their pick of opportunities. In fact, according to that same report, 76.1 percent of security pros surveyed said their base salary increased from one year ago. And 28.3 percent expected to be promoted to a higher-level position within the same company. 

The challenge, however, is on the HR side—there isn't enough talent to go around to meet this huge rise in digital security needs. In fact, 23.2 percent of security pros said they think the IT talent shortage is the biggest challenge facing the IT industry today.

The limited talent pool, coupled with a growing demand for more security, is the perfect storm for organizations. Not being able to adequately staff your security team is sort of like going through life without health insurance. It's a big risk, and your organization could suffer in a variety of ways.

Here are just three ways the current landscape for finding and retaining digital security employees can impact businesses:

  • A stressed-out workforce. IT staff are being asked to take on more tasks, increase productivity, and increase workloads—without seeing increased salaries. This creates disgruntled employees, which is a recipe for disaster for businesses relying on digital technology, UC, VoIP, and collaboration systems.
  • Employee turnover. The most disgruntled will jump ship: 34.1 percent of security pros (compared to 25.3 percent of all IT pros) said they expected to be at a higher-level position within a different organization five years from now.
  • More hard-to-fill vacancies. For jobs requiring 10+ years of experience, 21 percent of them take a year or more to fill.

Awareness of this impending crisis in your own business is the first step toward building a long-term digital security strategy. Because it's hard to find the specific skill set and level of expertise and experience IT security positions demand, training your highly skilled IT professionals in security technologies and protocol now will reap rewards moving forward. What's more, working with your HR team to increase employee satisfaction and improve your employer brand will help you attract and retain the top talent in the field. Using this twofold approach will help you survive the talent shortage and keep your data well-protected.

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