Two-Thirds of CIOs Believe Looming Mainframe Skills Shortage Will Hurt Their Business

Global Survey Shows Limited Progress is Being Made on Preparing for Skills Shortage Risks


DETROIT, Feb. 18, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Compuware Corporation (Nasdaq:CPWR), the technology performance company, today announced the results of an independent *global CIO survey investigating the use of the mainframe within the enterprise. Key findings indicated that the looming skills shortage of mainframe developers continues to be a serious concern for CIOs, who remain uneasy about their ability to effectively support new applications and meet the fast changing needs of the business. Despite this fact, there has been little advancement in the number of companies that have created a formal plan to handle these risks, when compared to Compuware's 2011 study.

The survey found that even as new technology platforms such as the cloud battle to claim their stake in the enterprise, the majority of CIOs (81 percent) still believe that the mainframe will remain a key business asset over the next decade. However, while the mainframe is still as relevant as ever, 66 percent of CIOs fear that the impending retirement of the mainframe workforce will hurt their business by reducing their ability to support legacy applications. Concerns relating to the looming skills shortage have remained constant: Increased application risk (61 percent); reduced productivity (61 percent); and an increase in project overruns (56 percent) top their list of concerns. Despite these fears, little progress is being made to smooth the transition. Almost half (40 percent) of CIOs still have no formal plans in place for dealing with the key risks associated with a mainframe skills shortage. Organizations have only made a slight improvement in their preparation levels since 2011, when 46 percent of CIOs admitted they were ill-prepared for a developer shortage.

"Mainframe applications have been updated and extended numerous times over the past 30 years, making them extremely complex to manage," said Kris Manery, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mainframe Solutions Business Unit, Compuware. "While experienced mainframe developers are familiar with these systems, newer developers can take up to two years to get up-to-speed. As more experienced mainframe workers approach retirement age, businesses need to act quickly to address this pending skills shortage and make concrete plans for a pain free transition. For example, by modernizing the mainframe development environment and using development and testing tools that provide deeper insight into how these applications work, businesses can help less experienced developers get up to speed faster, reducing the risk of an application failure."

According to an earlier study looking at how the mainframe is being used, the majority of CIOs (89 percent) say that it is now running an increased number of new and different workloads than it did five years ago. Although there have always been high expectations on the performance of the mainframe, the result is that 91 percent of CIOs believe this pressure has increased now that the mainframe is becoming more involved in delivering customer-facing applications. In the face of these rising expectations, Compuware's latest research found that 55 percent of CIOs claim that their mainframe teams are finding it difficult to keep up with the fast changing demands of the business. Again, this figure is largely unchanged since the 2011 study (56 percent). 

"Growing IT complexity, intensified pressure on the mainframe and the pending skills shortage are undoubtedly heightening the risk of serious IT failures," continued Manery. "The introduction of mobile and cloud, along with the explosion in new front end applications, devices and data services, is forcing legacy mainframe applications to work harder than ever. While this is a positive step for businesses, it presents multiple challenges for organizations that need the skills to maintain the mainframe applications that support the newer customer facing services. In today's 24/7 connected world, businesses must ensure they possess the skills and the tools necessary to both deploy innovative new services and keep their IT systems up and running."

*Commissioned by Compuware and conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne, the survey was administered to 350 CIOs from large companies, covering a cross-section of vertical markets in Australia, Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the U.S.

About the Compuware Mainframe Solutions

Compuware's Mainframe solutions help the world's leading organizations maximize developer productivity, minimize costs and deliver better service. The Solutions are available within the Compuware Workbench, an open development environment that features an intuitive and easy-to-use graphical user interface. The Workbench makes common mainframe tasks faster and simpler to perform for both experienced mainframers as well as those new to the mainframe, enabling companies to develop new services faster, more efficiently and with higher quality utilizing existing resources.

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