During our initial interviews with CIOs regarding the skills necessary for the future success of IT organizations, case study participants identified a critical competitive advantage as the ability to manage expanding sources of data, and put the right data in the right hands at the right time. This requires skills in pattern-based analytics, knowledge discovery, social collaboration, advanced business insights, and innovation. Advanced workforce strategies based on scenarios for the next three to five years and beyond (five to 10 years), supported by strategic sourcing and close partnerships with academic communities to influence and change the future supply of skilled talent, are the anticipated means by which to bridge this gap.
Almost half of CIOs plan to move the majority of their applications and infrastructure to the cloud over the next four years. That gives them an opportunity now to re-imagine IT by looking at current resources and establishing a sustainable skills sourcing and development plan to prepare for the continuing digitization of the enterprise, the rise of lighter-weight technologies, social computing and the search for technology-driven innovation.
Our initial research shows that CIOs are in agreement about the future skills critical for IT success being different from the past, and the skilled talent required to transform IT being in scarce supply. CIOs are also concerned that traditional planning assumptions and heavy reliance on external sourcing for new skills and talent will ultimately impede their ability to position IT as a source of competitive advantage. CIOs must be able to leverage new technologies and practices in ways that redirect or liberate resources to deliver greater innovation and value, while continuing to deliver reliable IT services.
The early indications from our research also show that CIOs must re-imagine themselves as process innovators and information architects focused on change leadership, collaboration and invention. More-advanced business knowledge and skills will be required in business-facing roles, with specialized, hybrid IT-business skills in partnership management, strategic discovery, pattern-based analytics and knowledge discovery aiming to make information more meaningful and relevant to the business.
Discussions with interviewed CIOs also indicate that strategic workforce planning (at least three to five years out), along with active engagement with universities to transform education and expand social skills development in future IT talent, could help mitigate the risk of scarce supply. After all, the future IT talent will not be all in IT; instead, they could be anywhere inside or outside of the enterprise. It will be the job of the CIO to effectively integrate, manage and leverage these resources to deliver greater value to the business.
CIO CALL TO ACTION
CIOs interviewed to date for this research suggest the following actions to identify, source and develop new skills for future IT:
• Understand the economic, social and technology trends and business strategy that will impact the business’s perception of IT and the demand for IT capabilities.
• Take a phased approach to strategic workforce planning, and build scenarios to anticipate changing demand for IT skills and talent.
• Expand IT talent profiles to include end-to-end skills in business process integration, advanced information management, change management, pattern-based analytics, resource planning and management, and innovation.
• Emphasize sourcing or developing hybrid IT-business skilled talent through building expanded skill networks and collaboration with universities to transform IT education.
CIOs will increase their sphere of influence as operational processes become more automated, the concept of data expands and roles such as decision analytics, user interaction specialists and information designers develop. Traditional IT training will change to build hybrid IT-business knowledge, as well as collaboration and innovation skills.
CIOs will lead a greater exploitation of technologies to invent new business solutions, delivering the right data at the right time, driving competitive advantage through revenue growth, operational efficiencies and innovation. Success depends on the enterprise’s ability to anticipate, attract and acquire the talent and skills needed to maintain and grow IT’s contribution.
We invite your comments and suggestions, and encourage your participation in the research process for this topic. Please e-mail the authors with your comments and suggestions. We also invite you to participate in a case study.
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