IT Talent Can’t Keep Up With the Pace of Technology

Unless you’ve been trekking in Outer Mongolia for the last few years, you know there’s a serious IT talent shortage. Part of the problem is that there simply aren’t enough students graduating from universities and technical institutes to keep up with demand. There’s also the fact that technologies are turning over so fast that it’s impossible to keep up with the demand for specific skillsets. Finally, there’s the gig economy and its influence on the labor market.

A new survey from global services provider Appirio offers some perspective. It found that 90 percent of C-level executives agree that recruiting and retaining technology talent is a top business challenge. Interestingly, half of IT staff have already worked in the gig economy in some manner, yet C-level executives believe only 28 percent of their employees work gigs. In addition, 80 percent of executives believe the gig economy is a distraction to full-time workers.

The study also found that organizations now devote about one-third of their human resources budgets to hiring IT talent, though at least 25 percent of projects wind up abandoned altogether because of IT capacity limitations, and projects that are eventually finished are delayed an average of 5 months.

“The way organizations add technical capabilities, such as mobile app development and data science, is changing due to a rise in gig-based employment and the changing demographics of the workforce. This needs to be a bigger topic of discussion among the C-suite in any size business,” said Appirio CEO Chris Barbin.

Although Appirio clearly has its hand in the gig economy till, the study nevertheless raises some interesting questions: What is an optimal level for using gig economy services, including crowdsourcing? How and where can these services be used without undermining an IT department or organization? And at what point do enterprises trade long-term stability for short-term gains through gig arrangements?

There are no easy answers. The one thing that is obvious: CIOs and other business and IT leaders must think more strategically about labor and staffing than at any point in the past. This means hiring new employees with different skillsets. It means retraining existing employees—including those from outside IT. And it means turning to alternative methods—including gigs—to fill gaps, niches and spaces and scale more effectively.

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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