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IT talent biggest roadblock to digital transformation

Sarah K. White | June 21, 2016
Digital transformation is on the mind of every business, but many are finding they don’t have the right skills in-house to make the transition.

And not only is it expensive, there's also a lot of competition -- it's not just IT departments that are seeking out employees with these skills. All departments are clamoring for the right tech talent, as technology becomes a company-wide responsibility that's no longer isolated to IT. "Skills that were once considered purely IT skills in the past -- such as coding -- are now being hired into business units. The line between what is IT and what is business is blurring. IT will need to hire or develop better coordination and soft skills to maintain alignment with business partners," says Holland.

Rethinking job titles

IDT reports that cross-functional knowledge is important for digital transformation. In the study, 88 percent of respondents said "extensive business-related knowledge on the IT side is crucial for developing a digital transformation strategy," but they're experiencing major gaps across departments. Fifty-eight percent say their IT executives have the right knowledge for digital transformation, while only 27 percent said their business executives had the same level of technical knowledge. "The business and IT leaders need to come together to create a single strategy driven by business goals that provides overall guidance which the entire organization can support," says Troester.

As a result, new job titles are emerging, targeted at blending the line between business and IT, according to Harry Osle, global HR solutions practice leader at The Hackett Group. He says he's seen a growing trend in new titles, including director of digital transformation, chief data officer and chief digital officer. "These positions will be key in helping organizations transform and provide insights on how important digital transformation is to any given company," he says.

For Troester, demonstrating your business's capability to encourage cross-functional knowledge and skills, can make your company more appealing to potential candidates. "Because what motivated individual would not want to work for an industry leader that is known for innovation?" he says.

A strong business strategy

In the business world, most new initiatives are driven by ROI, and digital transformation is no different. Businesses need to have a clear and well thought-out IT hiring strategy in place in order to convince the board of executives to allocate the right resources to find people with the necessary skills, according to Osle.

"Digital transformation strategies should be driven based on financial goals, and the investment should be measured over time," says Holland. He adds that it's not a race -- it takes time, and goals, and should be measured over time in a "grand multi-year strategy," accomplished through incremental steps that drive the success of the ultimate goal.

A good digital hiring strategy will ultimately change the way businesses view technology. "For the first time in the history of modern computing, we have seen a convergence of business and IT strategy, primarily fueled by the increasing power that new innovative and disruptive technologies have emerged," says Holland.

 

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