4 International Insights from CompTIA’s 2020 Industry Outlook ​

IT pros in Canada, the UK, Australia/New Zealand and Benelux were surveyed as part of this year's IT Industry Outlook. The responses paint a picture of how IT is getting done across the world.

CompTIA IT Industry Outlook 2020 Blog Graphic 1_515x325px (1)We’ve been digging into CompTIA’s 2020 IT Industry Outlook over the past month, and most of the discussion so far has been centered on the US data. Many of CompTIA’s reports are based in the US since this is the home for the bulk of our activity, but we try to pull in international data whenever we can to support our teams across the globe. For the Outlook study this year, we surveyed IT pros in the four regions where CompTIA has international communities: Canada, United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand (ANZ), and Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg (Benelux). The responses paint a picture of how IT is getting done across the world and how solution providers can meet the coming needs of their clients.

At a high level, one of the major trends we have seen in our international research over the past few years is that technology adoption is beginning to look very similar, especially in developed regions that have built a tech foundation over several decades. Cloud computing helps eliminate certain barriers to distribution, and cellular networks/mobile devices have opened the doors to innovation regardless of location. Developing regions are a different story—without an established foundation, they have more ability to pursue a modern approach—but even then, there are similarities based on the drive to cloud/mobile architecture.

The full set of data for all four regions can be found in the international supplement to the main Outlook report, but here are four takeaways from comparing the responses:

There is optimism around roles in technology, but a few lingering concerns.

More than three fourths of IT pros in every region feel good about the future of their role, and 7% or less feel mostly uneasy (the rest have mixed feelings). Positive feelings mostly come from good career options thanks to a high demand for tech skills and a sense that technology is playing a more strategic role within businesses. When it comes to misgivings, there are challenges in every region that even the optimistic majority should remain aware of. For the U.S., the UK, and Canada, the main sticking point is difficulty in handling growing complexity. Tech workers in ANZ are feeling more pressure to deliver larger results with shrinking budgets, and the main issue in the Benelux region is some perception that technology is causing harm to society. Whether it’s getting innovative with emerging technology, focusing more on automation, or building the right use case, the technology profession needs to keep adjusting to a strategic role in business.

Data management is a higher priority in other countries.

Looking across the four IT pillars defined by CompTIA’s Functional IT Framework, software development is the top priority, ranking first for four different regions (including the U.S.). However, data management is the clear second priority, ranking at the top for the UK and coming in second for the other three regions. In the U.S., cybersecurity ranks second. International regions tend to have a greater sensitivity toward privacy, establishing regulations such as GDPR, and this likely drives more focus in this area. To tell the truth, the U.S. is likely behind the curve on this one. Several CompTIA studies have shown that data management is a weak link for many companies, and with data becoming even more critical in an age of AI and customer trust, this is an area that needs more attention.

Some regions are adding a degree of difficulty to their hiring strategy. 

Across the board, the most common tactic for addressing skill gaps is training current employees, but new hiring is also a strong option. When it comes to the actual hiring, though, there is a major challenge. Most companies in every region are looking for employees with 3-10 years of experience. In a market short on supply, that creates a problem. Businesses will have to be willing to explore new hiring avenues and also take on even more of the training responsibility, and certain regions seem to have particular concerns around certain areas of technology. Very few companies in Canada and ANZ are looking for entry-level infrastructure employees; Benelux is especially wary of inexperienced software developers; junior data specialists are in low demand in the UK and Benelux; and all regions are looking for experience when it comes to cybersecurity. Companies in these regions may want to revisit their hiring/training plans in light of the actual availability of skills

Diversity efforts everywhere have room for improvement, but especially overseas.

While 30% of US firms felt that there had been significant improvement in diversity over the past year, that number was only 26% in Benelux, 23% in ANZ, 21% in Canada, and 20% in the UK. It’s possible that these regions already felt good about the diversity of their workforce, but CompTIA research shows that companies tend to be overly positive when it comes to assessing diversity. The more likely scenario is that there is more work to be done in broadening the search for talent and in creating inclusive environments,

It’s too simple to say that technology is a global phenomenon and that the same rules apply everywhere. While the tech landscape has definitely flattened out across the world, there are still differences from region to region based on existing infrastructure, regulations and cultural norms. To dive deeper into the specific challenges and opportunities, join one of CompTIA’s international communities.

Seth Robinson is CompTIA's senior director of technology analysis.


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