How Artificial Intelligence Simplifies Network Complexity to Bridge the Skills Shortage

By embracing AI-driven network management solutions, businesses can navigate the challenges posed by the skills shortage and position themselves for success in the digital era.

AI network management
(Credit: Pavel Muravev / Alamy Stock Photo)

Recent surveys of enterprise leaders have highlighted the pervasive impact of the IT Skills Shortage, with nearly half of them acknowledging the adverse effects on their businesses. According to IDC, the repercussions are far-reaching, with over 90% of organizations expected to feel the pinch, resulting in staggering financial losses amounting to over $6.5 trillion. Another survey reveals that 69% of companies struggle to fill roles that have emerged in recent years, while Gartner reports a continuous 10% yearly increase in the number of skills required for a single position.

IT Skills Gap Challenges Faced by Enterprises

Decreased Productivity: Without skilled professionals, tasks that require specialized knowledge or expertise often take longer to accomplish or may not be completed at all, hindering the organization's ability to innovate and adapt to technological advancements.

Security Risks: Detecting vulnerabilities, ensuring compliance, and responding to incidents have traditionally been the domain of highly specialized engineers. A talent shortage in this area could expose the organization to risk.

Inefficient Operations: Organizations cannot maintain or optimize their infrastructure without adequate IT expertise. Projects are put on hold, downtime increases, and business disruption is more common.

Difficulty Maintaining Compliance: Regulations are getting increasingly complex, and more regulations are on the horizon. Industries such as finance, healthcare and government are particularly scrutinized. Ensuring compliance is a mission-critical yet tedious task. Skills gaps in this area can result in failing audits and incurring significant fines, as well as eroding customer trust.

How Generative AI Can Help

It is increasingly unsustainable to staff every aspect of networking with experts. Instead, enterprises must focus on empowering generalists, new hires, and early-career engineers to perform at the same level of efficiency and efficacy as seasoned experts across the hybrid multi-cloud enterprise.

Generative AI combined with a network digital twin can empower even the most inexperienced engineer to glean complex insights from the network, quickly troubleshoot issues, prove compliance, and discover vulnerabilities. By combining purpose-built LLMs (Large Language Models) with the comprehensive configuration and state data contained in a network digital twin, engineers can virtually “talk” to the network to understand what’s happening.

AI and LLMs play a pivotal role in simplifying network management by democratizing actionable data access across various teams such as SecOps, NetOps, and Cloud Ops. Leveraging natural language prompts, engineers can effortlessly extract insights from normalized and structured data, regardless of their expertise level. This capability enables engineers with varying levels of experience to conduct sophisticated network analyses with minimal training, thereby mitigating the skills gap.

AI tools effectively address the skills shortage by contextualizing and analyzing data in a manner that makes it actionable while eliminating the need for engineers to master proprietary languages and complex technologies across multiple vendors and cloud providers. Moreover, AI will facilitate proactive issue detection and resolution, leveraging user-generated searches to enhance networking LLMs continuously. It will ultimately assist engineers in preventing network and security incidents and preemptively addressing issues.

The evolution of AI functionalities embedded within digital twins holds the promise of further streamlining network management and reducing the reliance on specialized engineers to tackle intricate issues. Generative AI is poised to become more proactive, augmenting trouble tickets with valuable insights, assisting in change management processes like Method of Procedure (MOP) creation, and suggesting potential remedies. It is anticipated that eventually it will be able to learn network patterns, identify anomalies before they escalate into problems, and assess risks in response to proposed changes.

While AI alone cannot resolve the skills crisis, it serves as a crucial tool in converting vast data into actionable insights for network engineers. This will significantly address the shortage of skilled professionals in the IT sector.

The convergence of AI and network digital twin technology offers a promising path forward in simplifying network complexity and bridging the skills gap within IT departments. As these technologies continue to evolve, organizations stand to benefit from enhanced efficiency, improved problem-solving capabilities, and reduced dependence on specialized expertise. By embracing AI-driven solutions, businesses can navigate the challenges posed by the skills shortage and position themselves for success in the digital era.

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About the Author(s)

Chiara Regale, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Forward Networks

Chiara Regale is Vice President of Product Management at Forward Networks. In her role, Chiara is responsible for product strategy and business development. Prior to Forward Networks, Chiara was a Director of Product Management for the Insieme business unit at Cisco. She has also held various senior management roles at Riverbed and Cisco, focusing on product, go-to-market, and business development strategies.

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