Three ways to go cloud-native amidst a talent crunch
As government agencies move towards cloud-native applications, what are the challenges IT teams might face, and what are the tools that can best support them? Leaders from multinational IT company HCLTech share how to embrace modern application development.
Going cloud-native during a talent crunch is a matter of strategy. Image: Canva
According to a recent report on manpower shortage in Singapore, 83 per cent of employers found it difficult finding the right skilled talent in 2023 – and the most in-demand skills they’re looking for are in IT and tech. In an age of cloud-first governments, cloud-native skills – or the ability to build applications optimised for the cloud – are key.
While many organisations wish to go cloud-native, they lack the capacity to drive such initiatives, says Alan Flower, Executive Vice President - CTO & Global Head, Cloud Native & AI Labs at HCLTech, which helps companies embark on cloud transformation journeys.
And cloud-native applications are vital to making full use of the cloud’s benefits. Applications that are built to run on the cloud can scale up and down to meet changing demand, remain resilient to failure, and can be updated quicker, he explains.
GovInsider speaks to leaders from HCLTech to better understand how agencies can embrace cloud native services while balancing the tech talent crunch.
1. Focus on core applications
First, agencies should focus on transforming their core applications to reap the benefits of cloud-native development quickly, explains Flower.
When it comes to commercial organisations, that means focusing on the revenue-generating services – but in the public sector, agencies should focus on identifying and transforming the services that bring the most value to your target population, says Flower.
“Focus on the user experience and where you can bring the most improvement to the population,” he says.
“This can include use-cases that present an opportunity to improve the way citizens interact with the government and unifying customer experience across all platforms,” explains Debabrata Panda, Associate Vice President and Regional Head, AWS Business Unit, at HCLTech.
For example, the CPF Board previously shared with GovInsider that redeploying the CPF website on the government commercial cloud allowed them to deploy new products and enhancements without incurring whole-of-website downtime.
After identifying these applications, it’s critical to incorporate observability and auditability tools that can help agencies monitor and maintain such applications, as well as performing appropriate change management to ensure a smooth transition, says Panda.
2. Adopt low-code and no-code solutions
Next, organisations can consider adopting low-code and no-code tools to simplify the process of modern application development.
No code and low code tools help all employees – from seasoned developers to newbies – build cloud-native tools quickly, through drag-and-drop interfaces that make it easy for developers to spin up new products.
“If I have to get a new capability to market and I have limited engineering capacity, wouldn’t it be great if I could empower a business user with a no code toolset, so they can build the application themselves?” asks Flower.
For instance, organisations can adopt Volt MX, a HCL tool that allows all employees to build low-code solutions to everyday problems in their work, resulting in faster app development, says Flower. This has enabled 12 million residents access to key government services, according to their website.
For organisations that rely on legacy systems like HCL Notes, the company has introduced Domino Leap, a no-code tool which allows business users to build applications 70 per cent faster. In Lufthansa, employees have developed over 2,000 apps to improve business workflow, ranging from apps that can order personalised badges to invoicing tools.
“Wherever you look, whether it’s greenfield or brownfield, this new capability has been injected into all tools and platforms,” he says.
Now, there are also AI-enabled tools to accelerate app development as well, such as ADvantage-Code on AWS, which can auto-generate parts of code within an AWS environment, says Panda.
3. Upskill existing employees
Finally, organisations can upskill existing employees with cloud-native training programmes to support them in adjusting to new IT environments and rearchitecting systems to better run on the cloud.
“There was a time when our clients thought they could hire a new workforce with the right skills, but there’s never enough people to go around,” laughs Flower.
“The inevitable realisation is that you need to reskill your workforce and give them the ability to work with these new technologies,” he says.
HCLTech runs a Cloud Native Lab which is designed to support organisations rapidly reskill their employees, training employees in everything from application migration to generative AI skills to cloud strategy skills.
“Fundamentally, this isn’t about technology – it’s about transformation and having the right mindset to understand what’s achievable today. Ultimately, it then comes down to giving your employees access to the right skills, and I think you might be surprised at how quickly the journey moves,” he says.