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“Transact to transform” will be a key theme across Australia for the next year, according to PwC. CEOs consider technological change to be the single most significant source of change, and 59% of CEOs are planning to execute a deal within the next three years.

This is having a significant impact across the IT industry in Australia, too, with consolidation across the industry as companies look to diversify their portfolios and attain skills that are otherwise in short supply. Australia is expected to have a shortage of 30,000 cyber security professionals alone over the next four years.

Gaining access to skills and the ability to pivot the business is currently easier through acquisition than organic growth, and this poses both an opportunity and a challenge for IT professionals.

Consolidation rampant among business pivots

For just one example, late in February, Australian MSP Spirit announced a major pivot to cyber security as a solution to substantial declines in revenue. To do that, it made a major investment in acquiring Infotrust.

Meanwhile, ASX-listed Atturra spent more than $90 million across five acquisitions to grow the business to more than 800 employees and have the resources and capabilities to compete against the likes of IBM, Accenture and DXC.

SEE: Australia’s IT sector faces a skills shortage.

Another trend has been overseas organizations looking to leverage acquisitions to move into the Australian market. U.S.-based group Evergreen Services Group is one example, having acquired both New Zealand-based Lancom Technology and just this week announcing the acquisition of Centrered in Australia as its first entries into the market.

Acquiring companies will need cyber security talent

Cyber security skills and capabilities are high on the priorities for companies on the hunt to acquire. In addition, according to a recent study of the Australian IT market by Westcon-Comstor, data is also considered to be critical to an organization’s ability to transform.

“Nearly all Australia-based respondents (94%) identified data capabilities as a key investment priority for the coming year,” the report noted.

Elsewhere, other key in-demand tech skills, according to the most recent report by Hays, include project management, business analysis and software development.

“We’re only eight weeks into the new calendar year, but it’s clear that certain skills are sought after more than others,” Hays Asia-Pacific CEO Matthew Dickason said in a report. “These roles are at the top of employers’ wish lists, with the ongoing skills shortage amplifying existing attraction and retention challenges for organizations.”

Certifications will make Australian IT pros essential hires

For Australian IT professionals working in specialist organizations in one of those in-demand areas, there is a good chance that the market conditions will lead to an acquisition. For those that are in larger or growth-focused companies, there’s also a good chance that the company will make investments and try to pivot to these in-demand areas.

SEE: Psychological insights may help Australian IT pros grow as leaders.

Both situations can be challenging for employees to remain aligned with their business and its direction. Research shows that retention becomes a major challenge for organizations following an acquisition. But it can also be difficult for the employees, and for reasons such as uncertainty about the future organization direction, uncertainty about personal job security or perceptions of increased job stress and workload, many employees feel unable to continue with their new organization.

The good news is that, whether they stay at the organization or move on, IT professionals have power over their own destinies as long as the skill shortage remains as severe as it is. With the motivations behind the consolidation and company pivots being so focused, however, IT professionals will find that now is a good time to refresh their certifications and training and ensure their own capabilities and careers align with the current trends.

Key certifications to obtain

There are a number of different certifications out there. Some good options start with include:

(ISC)² and ISACA are also particularly respected for their industry recognition and the depth of knowledge they represent. Certifications from them will be highly beneficial for professionals seeking to validate their expertise and advance their careers in information security and control.

SEE: How tech pros can prepare for the future of IT in Australia.

Regardless of the certification you start with, during any period of disruption and uncertainty, having a broad skillset and well-regarded certifications helps to provide job security and options. Just as their organizations are pivoting to find new market opportunities and grow, the right set of capabilities will allow an IT professional to find a role that remains aligned with their own goals, values and interests.

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