What are the buzzwords that are on almost every person’s lips at the outset of the second decade of the 21st century? You can take your pick but huge odds are that one of such words would be outsourcing. Having been initiated in the late 1980s, such an offbeat (at that time) cooperation scheme was something companies were reluctant or even ashamed to admit, although many ventures started to introduce it into their workflow still mostly keeping it low-key.  

As is the story with many novel practices, outsourcing was strongly criticized at the dawn of its existence. Its opponents found outsourcing guilty on multiple charges – from encouraging the inability of organizations to handle things in-house to dealing a heavy blow to the internal job market causing its ultimate shrinkage. Yet, its two major assets – cost-effectiveness and involvement of talent across the globe – have eventually turned outsourcing from a precarious occupation into a full-fledged business approach.  

Being employed by a slew of enterprises for non-core assignments, outsourcing proved to be an extremely fitting engagement model in some domains, gaining special traction in the IT sector. Given the high cost of software development in North America and Western Europe and the affordability of a competent workforce elsewhere, the IT outsourcing industry has been manifesting a steady if not dramatic growth. In 2019, IT outsourcing statistics reported global revenues brought by outsourcing exceeding $66 billion. With all probability, this number would have continued its triumphant surge but for the force-majeure interference of a tectonic game-changer.  

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How COVID affected the IT outsourcing market 

The global pandemic caught humanity on the hop, wreaking worldwide havoc and causing a hiatus in well-nigh all activities – from work and education to entertainment and communication. Some industries (like tourism or air transportation) were brought to a total standstill while others managed to stay afloat, drastically cutting down on the number of personnel and their salaries – but no realm was left unmolested. 

The apocalyptical sway of infection, plummeting consumer demand, the disruption of supply chains, and several waves of lockdowns adversely told upon the IT industry as well, since the majority of businesses curtailed their expenditures and put the development of new products on standby. Surveys display from 2.2% to 7.3% decline in IT spendings and services instead of commensurable numbers of growth forecasted before the outburst of the plague. 

However, the plunge can’t last forever. What with people learning to take the next normal in its stride and the spread of vaccination, we are starting to climb out of the plight. The UN DESA expects moderate growth of 4% across all industries this year and, according to Gartner estimates, IT services are likely to increase by 5.5%.  

One of the main lessons COVID has taught us is that the level of digitalization in all spheres of society should be enhanced so that we could be ready for remote engagement in case of future contingencies. Companies realize the crucial role of IT specialists in propelling this vibrant digitalization drive, creating a great demand for their services.  

IT services in 2021: The most wanted list 

Knowing the state of the IT market inside out, we at DICEUS can pinpoint what jobs and experts are in the greatest demand among IT services seekers. 

  • Security specialists. Companies are taking utmost care their professional activity is safe from both internal and external threats hiring personnel that can ensure the security of their infrastructure, software, and data (both on-premises and in the cloud).  

Such experts must not only implement security policies and hold security audits but also keep abreast of all compliance laws and regulations that are called to minimize vulnerabilities across all elements of IT systems. 

  • Cloud architects. With the increasing number of organizations hydrating the cloud, people who are responsible for deploying and supporting the functioning of the software in the cloud are sure to find a wide field for the application of their skills.  

They should have deep knowledge of cloud services and architectural principles of their organization as well as experience in managing and scaling cloud applications. 

  • Database administrators. Today, data is the chief asset that ultimately determines the success of any commercial endeavor. Realizing this simple truth, enterprises look for specialists who can make sure their data is accessible to all stakeholders and software that manages databases runs smoothly.  

Administrators of this kind must be competent in all aspects of data handling (access, storage, backup, security, etc.), monitor the work of servers, optimize their performance, and have sufficient skills in data analysis and management. 

  • Systems analysts. IT systems of any organization are useful as long as they can solve business problems. Systems analysts are called to provide this link between business and technologies. They should efficiently deal with any related issues and forestall their appearance.  

Typically, these experts test software and databases to ensure their problem-free functioning, hold their security audits, and maintain systems documentation within the company. That is why programming and data analysis skills, as well as project management abilities, are necessary competencies required from such specialists. 

  • Programmer analysts. These are bread-and-butter employees of any IT department whose responsibility lies in designing, coding, and testing computer programs of all kinds. In fact, their responsibilities are a blend of what is expected from a systems analyst and a computer programmer.  

Closely cooperating with project managers, they should be able to design software on-demand, calculate its cost, and make sure it complies with all customer requirements. Another field of the authority of such experts is taking care of troubleshooting and debugging of information systems and application programs.  

  • Software developers. These are rank-and-file soldiers of IT armies that handle building websites, apps, and any other commissioned software. Their main asset is the tech stack they are proficient in (particularly, a number of programming languages). 

Good software developers don’t only design, code, install, test, and maintain software of different kinds but also provide recommendations on improving the client’s initial idea to make the final product as user-friendly as possible. 

  • Mobile app developers. Modern civilization is essentially smartphone-reliant. People increasingly use this device for work, shopping, studying, and entertainment. Realizing this, companies invest heavily into apps that provide access to the huge audience of mobile phone users to their products and services.  

Mobile app developers must possess knowledge of existing operating systems (notably, Android and iOS), UI design, and other specific skills that can help obtain a high-end app that would appeal to the tastes of customers.  

  • Network administrators. The smooth running of the infrastructure that links all access points into a single system is the primary concern of modern organizations. Naturally, employees that are responsible for the entire software, hardware, and LAN/WAN protocols are in great demand in the contemporary IT market.  

Such specialists pay a lion’s share of their attention to troubleshooting and must be available almost 24×7 in case of an emergency since companies can’t afford any prolonged downtime in their workflow. 

  • DevOps engineers. DevOps practices are robustly pushing their way into the IT realm. Their employment facilitates code writing and minimizes the number of failures, both being essential summands of a successful development process.  

Engineers of this kind have a wide range of responsibilities – from managing infrastructure and resource provisioning to monitoring software testing and tracking after-launch performance. Their efforts aim to augment the efficiency of all IT-related procedures. 

  • Help desk personnel. The overarching goal of any entrepreneur is to keep their clients satisfied. Customer support is honed to this particular end, being the chief point of contact between the vendor and the clientele.  

Specialists of this service must not only be well-versed in technical and operational properties of products their organization manufactures or/and sells but also have top communication skills, being ready to go all lengths to solve problems of people who contact them. 

Being aware of the IT experts sought after by businesses today is instrumental in divining major IT outsourcing trends that will shape the face of the industry in the nearest future. 

By and large, such mainstream tendencies of 2021 as the focus on cybersecurity and extensive employment of cloud facilities are sure to stay dominant in all IT outsourcing statistics 2022 will yield. In addition to those, DICEUS would like to draw your attention to other developments that, judging by some auguring precursors, will hold sway over the niche in next year and even beyond that time.  

Empowerment of outsourcers 

The contribution of third-party actors to companies’ performance is on a dynamic rise, which causes a fundamental shift in their status. Given the across-the-board drive for long-term cooperation with external experts, outsourcers have grown out of their previous band-aid role. Instead, they are increasingly comprehended as legitimate team players who share in all liabilities of the firm.  

Moreover, their employers are ready to delegate to them a fair share of decision-making responsibilities, engaging them in strategic planning, risk prevention, system architecture design, which effectively turns outsourcers into virtual (in all senses of this word) employees on a regular payroll.  

Contracting quality, not process 

Businesses are gradually owning up to the simple truth that the quality of the product is what ultimately matters. That is why signing contracts with outsourcers, they will emphasize the outcome. Of course, no one speaks of renouncing deadlines and other important elements of collaboration, but the practice of punctilious control over each step of product development is going extinct.  

Enhanced flexibility rocks  

The raging epidemic has underscored the vital ability of outsourcers to adjust to the ever-shifting conditions of our volatile world. Upscaling or downscaling the project team, stepping up the development speed or suspending the progress until further notice, onboarding experts with necessary skills or including novel technologies if the customer comes up with new ideas as to the features of the product – outsourcers must be ready to take any of these steps on short notice and restructure their workflow as circumstances demand. 

The waxing of multiple outsourcing model  

With the scope and number of digital projects gathering momentum, it is natural that companies will have to employ several outsourcers to do various assignments for them. Envisaging the spread of this phenomenon, outsourcers should prioritize communication techniques and collaboration tools to provide efficient cooperation with all parties to the software development process.  

The continued rise of Eastern European vendors 

This trend in outsourcing IT services became evident a couple of years ago and it is sure to persist into 2022 as well. The tempo of expansion from 4 to 5 times greater than the global average turns the IT industry in Ukraine, Poland, and Romania into a powerful player on the world market. Offering top-notch quality at affordable prices, outsourcers from this region are sure to keep their leading positions in the niche next year. 

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IT outsourcing of today is an extremely advantageous engagement model that incarnates the basic assets of the free-market economy: involvement of the best available workforce to manufacture high-end products, where cost-effectiveness serves as a major competitive differentiator. Recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic, companies in 2022 will extensively rely on competent IT services providers to bring value to their business.