In Pursuit of Digital Talent

By Samuel Greengard

If one thing has become completely obvious about digital business, it’s that it requires digital skills. But recognizing that a problem exists doesn’t necessarily do anything to address the underlying challenge.

A new brief from Gartner points out that competition for talent will make or break many businesses in the months and years ahead. CIOs and other business leaders should brace themselves for massive change, including the need to find new ways to locate and retain talent.

Partha Iyengar, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, puts it this way: “Digital business has become the lingua franca of [the modern enterprise], a common and unifying language around the globe. As enterprises prepare for an increasingly digital world, CIOs must learn to tap into technology expertise across organizations and business domains.”

Unfortunately, business and staffing as usual no longer works. It cannot keep up with the pace and demand of digital transformation.

How should CIOs approach the challenge? A starting point, Iyengar says, is to launch a digital business community practice to enrich cross-business understanding. He says that organizations can also benefit by moving quickly to find, deploy and use external expertise that can be plugged in as needed—in many cases in the form of independent contractors rather than employees.

Yet, business leaders, including CIOs, also must think differently about staffing. It’s vital to focus on key areas that lead to innovation, including cloud computing, mobile apps, social media and big data—as well as the intersection of these powerful tools. That’s increasingly where real digital transformation takes place.

Innovation and transformation are only part of the story, however. At the same time, there are issues such as outsourcing and cybersecurity, which require growing attention and resources. According to industry studies, several hundred thousand cybersecurity positions are likely to exist by 2015. Some schools, including the University of Southern California, now offer a Master’s degree in cybersecurity.

The common denominator is that CIOs must step beyond a bits-and-bytes, speeds-and-feeds mentality. It’s critical to find people who see the big picture, think in creative and innovative ways, and have the skills to connect the digital dots. And it’s critical to connect these people to one another so that the organization becomes an incubator for digital thinking.

About the Author

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, “Missing in Action: BYOD Security,” click here.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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