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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.

A global study from IDT, conducted in collaboration with SAP, surveyed 81 executives (65 percent of which identified themselves as CIOs) and found that 80 percent of businesses cite digital transformation as a priority. However, according to the report, only 35 percent of respondents said their business actually had a "clearly defined digital transformation strategy."

Although digital transformation is important to businesses, companies are still dragging their heels on developing a strategy. One thing that might be holding businesses back the most is hiring, according to a study from The Hackett Group. The study found that for midsized and large businesses, one of the biggest roadblocks with digital transformation has been actually finding and sourcing talent with the right skills.

"Without the right skills in IT and other business units, companies will not understand the possibilities of what can be accomplished through digital transformation and they won't define a digital transformation strategy," says Scott Holland, principal, Global Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group.

The skills gap

IDT found that only 17 percent of respondents had enough employees with the right skills to embark on a smooth digital transformation. While, at the same time, The Hackett Group study identified talent as the "most important determinant of IT's capability to successfully address its key issues," in relation to digital transformation.

"The central importance of talent reflects a broader issue in the IT field today: a structural mismatch between in-demand roles and the skills and experience of the talent available in the marketplace," says Holland.

Holland advices creating a "comprehensive strategic workforce plan" to win the talent war and executing on a strong hiring strategy to land the best talent. And it's not always about technical skills, he says. Oftentimes businesses are looking for skills like analytics and strategic thinking, an ability to manage others and business acumen.

But hiring for the hottest skills can get expensive. So when looking at hiring for new and in-demand skills, you might first want to look within your own workforce and see if there is an employee who could be trained in that area, says Holland. Another options, he says, to look to at third-party services "who are selling a full solution without the need to unpack what specific skills are necessary." While a third-party option may initially be more expensive, it can give more insight into what skills your business will really need for digital transformation, so you can then hire accordingly.

Mark Troester, vice president of Solutions Marketing at software provider Progress, hiring for digital transformation is about striking a balance between skills. "From a leadership perspective, look for individuals that live in the middle of business and technology -- individuals that are entrepreneurial in spirit and have the ability to apply technology in new and creative ways. If that skillset is lacking then you may need to go outside the organization," he says.


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