DevOps Institute

DevOps Institute’s ‘Upskilling 2020: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report’ Spotlights Need for Human Transformation


Based on two years of research and new data gathered from more than 1,200 IT professionals worldwide, report uncovers the state of skill sets critical to DevOps and digital transformation initiatives

March 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — DevOps Institute, a global member-based association for advancing the human elements of DevOps, today announced the release of the data and results of the “Upskilling 2020: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report.” For the second year, the report defines the most critical and in-demand skills needed around the world to meet DevOps transformation objectives within enterprise IT organizations of all sizes. The data that underpins the report was collected through a global community research project and an open survey from more than 1,200 respondents.

The research and data analysis was led by DevOps Institute’s Chief Research Analyst, Eveline Oehrlich, with support from Platinum Sponsor ServiceNow, Gold Sponsor CloudBees, Silver Sponsor BMC, and Bronze Sponsors Micro Focus and HCL UrbanCode.

“Human transformation is the single most critical success factor to enable DevOps practices and patterns for enterprise IT organizations,” said Jayne Groll, CEO of DevOps Institute. “Traditional upskilling and talent development approaches won’t be enough for enterprises to remain competitive because the increasing demand for IT professionals with core human skills is escalating to a point that business leaders have not yet seen in their lifetime. We must update our humans through new skill sets as often, and with the same focus, as our technology.”

Key Findings from the ‘Upskilling 2020: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report’ include:

  • The DevOps transformation journey is still very difficult for more than 50% of respondents: Managing the people, processes and technologies associated with and necessary for a DevOps transformation are all difficult. Each category has received the same amount of responses for being a challenge.

  • Finding and attracting skilled DevOps Humans continues to be a challenge in 2020: 58% of respondents in the report [PA(2] said finding skilled DevOps individuals is a challenge, and 48% say it’s difficult to retain skilled DevOps professionals. Salaries for experienced DevOps engineers can reach beyond $179,250, according to the Robert Half Technology 2020 Salary Guide ( Combined with the current skills gap, 2020 will be a tough year for hiring managers and HR leaders. As Jeff Weber, executive director of staffing firm Robert Half Technology, said, “The search for DevOps talent is pervasive in organizations of all types and sizes. A DevOps professional in one company might need different skills and experience in another company, which makes recruiting and hiring very difficult.”

  • The DevOps Human must be hybrid and equipped with three key skill categories: Process skills and knowledge (69% of respondents), automation skills (67% of respondents) and human skills (61% of respondents) are the top three must-have skill categories in 2020. This is a change from the 2019 research where automation skills were the top skill category and process skills and knowledge was ranked as the second most important must-have skill category.

  • Upskilling requires the attention of business leaders now: The challenges of upskilling aren’t new and according to the World Economic Forum are the biggest challenge across the world with the tech job. Unfortunately, over 38% of respondents’ organizations have no upskilling program, 21% are currently working on one, and 7% don’t even know if their organization has an upskilling program. 31% of respondents, however, have indicated that their company had already implemented a formal upskilling program within their organizations.

  • Agile, DevOps and ITIL are getting strong competition from Site Reliability Engineering (SRE): While Agile adoption (81%), DevOps adoption (75%) and ITIL adoption (25%) have grown since the 2019 benchmark report, SRE has risen from 10% adoption in 2019 to 15% in 2020. Additional philosophies such as Value Stream Management (19%) and Systems Thinking (13%) are also being leveraged. Many of these disciplines and/or frameworks co-exist within organizations.

Introducing the ‘E-Shaped’ Human of DevOps
“T-shaped” Humans of DevOps professionals highlighted in the 2019 report must evolve into “E-shaped” professionals – an idea according to Sarah DaVanzo that “favors individuals with ‘breadth’ and ‘depth’ of knowledge as well as tangible and intangible skills that imply a big picture outlook and attention to detail from being a practitioner. ‘E-Shaped People’ have a combination of ‘4-E’s’: experience and expertise, exploration and execution.”

  • Based on the most recent data analysis from the 2020 Upskilling survey, the “E-Shaped” DevOps Human is made up of the following skills categories: Three horizontal skill categories comprising automation skills, functional knowledge skills and technical skills.
  • The second grouping of skills – process and framework skills – that is a vertical skillset that focuses on flow and understanding of different practices and methods such as Scrum, Agile development and Value Stream Mapping.
  • Another vertical skill category focuses on human skills such as collaboration and interpersonal skills.

“The time is now to upskill your DevOps teams and individuals, however, this must be done across more than technical and functional skills,” said Eveline Oehrlich. “We already saw significant demand for a variety of human must-have skills in our 2019 research and this year we saw a tremendous increase across all human skills e.g. collaboration, interpersonal skills, empathy and creativity to name a few. The most important though is the increase in value placed on human skills, which comes from the management and business leaders in our survey. Our research shows that a mindset shift is happening with the transition from “soft” skills to “human” skills, but more importantly, today’s leaders must change their mindset to recognize the value human skills will bring to a team and organization.”

“At ServiceNow, our purpose is to ‘make the world of work, work better for people,’ so it’s appropriate for us to support this important piece of research about reshaping skills in the world of DevOps,” said Richard Hawes, director of product marketing for ServiceNow. “The people and culture insights are hugely valuable as enterprises seek to scale the value of DevOps, and it’s fascinating to see how they influence the discussion on process and technology.”

“People, process and technology have always been the trifecta needed to execute DevOps successfully. As we strive to enhance the culture needed to predictably deliver better software faster at CloudBees, it’s been important for us to identify which skills are considered “must-haves,” which are “nice to haves” and which are “not important” across teams, roles and regions,” said Shawn Ahmed, senior vice president and general manager of the Software Delivery Automation business at CloudBees. “As the report underscores, upskilling is now more important than ever to enable meaningful collaboration between all teams to truly deliver software at an elite level.”

The report is available for download at

Upskilling IT 2023 Report

Community at DevOps Institute

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