Technology is at the heart of almost every business transaction today and continues to evolve at a staggeringly rapid pace. For enterprise CIOs, it’s an exciting time, witnessing first-hand the profound impact smart-technology decisions can have on business and its customers. With each technology change and new application comes greater possibilities for how IT can deliver value to the broader organization.
However, this transformation to a “digital enterprise” is not without its challenges. Many CIOs are enthused by the potential of the Internet of Things, Big Data, and cloud computing, but are uncertain as to whether or not they are prepared to maintain an IT workforce with all the necessary skills to support it. Some believe this so-called “IT skills gap” is approaching critical mass. CIOs know they can’t capitalize on the many technology opportunities available without the right IT team to execute on them. In this slideshow, Charles Galda, CIO, Technology Centers and Services, GE Capital, outlines five steps that CIOs can take to bridge the IT skills gap and make sure their workforce is poised for success in the rapidly changing enterprise.
Steps for Bridging the IT Skills Gap
Click through for five steps organizations can take to ensure they have the right tech skills on staff, as identified by Charles Galda, CIO, Technology Centers and Services, GE Capital.
Invest in Your Team
While finding new talent is an important part of maintaining a strong workforce, the best investment is almost always realized when developing the talent you already have. Instead of hiring experts on a particular new technology (such as cloud computing), CIOs will need to retain people with general technical backgrounds — a “blueprint of technical knowledge” — and provide them with the tools they need to become experts in the latest enterprise technology.
Departments should set aside an annual budget for employee training that balances the financial realities of the department with the need to keep an employee’s skills up to date. Large organizations may benefit from a formal internal training program, while IT departments with tighter budgets may devise lower-cost creative options, such as peer trainings in which employees share their knowledge with one another. Whatever your training budget, make sure every dollar spent on professional development addresses skills your organization needs now or will likely need in the future.
Create Career Paths for Talent
Employees with a clear path toward advancement are more likely to remain at a company and stay motivated to perform at a high level. Identify members of your team who are smart and curious about new technology trends, or have the ability to solve existing technology challenges in new ways, and grow their skills based on the needs of the business. Promoting “home grown” talent keeps valuable intellectual property in-house and also reduces the cost and time needed to find and train a new candidate.
Value Soft Skills
When you do seek out external talent, think carefully about what you really need – not just now but in the future. Beyond hiring candidates with niche technology skills, for example, it will be important to look for talented people who also have “soft skills” such as communication, leadership, presentation skills, etc. Specific technology skills are certainly valued, but the abilities to also speak the business language, lead teams and be a self-motivator are becoming increasingly important.
Participate in Building the Industry Workforce
College students in particular are always looking for internships or apprenticeships to gain work experience and mentoring from established executives. Many businesses have begun partnering with educational institutions to help develop and execute a curriculum that is aimed at preparing students for the real world. For CIOs, this could be as simple as STEM education to make sure the future workforce has a strong foundation. These types of synergistic alliances can help develop a talent pool that businesses can draw from for years to come. It’s up to the enterprise to take a proactive approach on building the workforce needed to drive business forward.
Adapt to the New IT Workforce Reality
Just as technology is constantly changing, so is the role of the IT employee. CIOs must find ways to adapt and prepare their workforce for the challenges of the digital enterprise. CIOs and other industry leaders need to understand that now is the time to think critically about where IT is headed and the kind of workforce needed to realize that vision. By focusing on finding the right kind of people, with a foundation of technical knowledge and soft skills that matter, CIOs can ensure they have workers who can shift gears and embrace technological evolution. In the long run, having an IT staff with diverse skills will be critical as CIOs take on greater and more strategic roles in any business.