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Predicts 2021: Technology Executives Must Adjust Talent and Leadership Direction for Digital Acceleration

By Daniel Sanchez Reina | December 06, 2020 | 0 Comments

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The digital acceleration caused by the pandemic and its consequent global crisis demand that CIOs (Technology Executives) quickly address the challenges of the new talent and leadership ecosystem. These Gartner predictions will prepare CIOs to better face those challenges beginning right now.

What You Need to Know First

As a result of the pandemic, many organizations have pushed their digital initiatives forward by several years. On top of that, according to mid-2020 Gartner surveys with CEOs and boards of directors, the advent of a significant global crisis is empowering them to continue accelerating their digital transformation. They will continue investing in digital initiatives in order to weather the crises in good shape.

In this new context, CIOs will have to face the following challenges:

  • The severe talent scarcity in some technological disciplines, mainly AI and data analytics, and their derived skills (logical, analytic and mathematical thinking).

  • The reprioritization of some leadership competencies required for CIOs going forward, due to the impact of the pandemic.

  • The increasing emergence of workplaces where humans interact with AI and robotics to get the work done.

Prepare for the near future. Reflect on the five predictions that follow, derived from the challenges above, and gauge to what extent they apply to you (see figure below). Notice I am saying “to what extent,” not “whether” they apply to you. You must get ready for it.

CIO’s Talent and Leadership Challenges Triangle

Predicts

  • By 2024, 20% of IT departments in large enterprises will adopt talent-sharing schemes, easing the shortage of technical professionals by 25% globally.
  • By 2024, 80% of large-enterprise CIOs will have a neurodiversity talent strategy that will comprise 3% to 5% of their IT workforces.
  • By 2023, 75% of companies will have an EVP tailored for attracting and retaining technology talent across borders.
  • By 2021, 70% of hiring processes of new CIOs will highly rank two critical personal characteristics: determination and sensitivity.
  • By 2025, 50% of large-enterprise IT leaders will require operations technology management (OTM) skills to support artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented intelligence.

Delving into the Predicts

 

By 2024, 20% of IT departments in large enterprises will adopt talent-sharing schemes, easing the shortage of technical professionals by 25% globally.

Talent sharing is an emerging approach that enables enterprises to send workers to other enterprises for a fixed period of time. These workers keep the employment status of the original organization, but work as full-time equivalent staff in the new organization. This scheme is usually adopted among enterprises that have close business relationships.

The penetration of talent-sharing schemes is considered to have been extremely low until recently. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has evolved to be applied among those which do not have any business relationships. For example, Hilton’s employees were given the opportunity to work temporarily at AmazonCVS Health and other large partner enterprises. There are commercial and noncommercial third-party platforms that help businesses to find partners.

Talent sharing has multiple impacts for both senders and receivers of workers. It is a way to optimize the IT workforce without conducting layoffs, it provides workers with additional learning opportunities, and the receiving company can fill their short-term capability at a smaller cost than outsourcing.

Talent sharing will have a significant impact on IT workforce strategy as it will give CIOs a new option to deal with idle workers as well as to fill in the capability gap in a short term.

 

By 2024, 80% of large-enterprise CIOs will have a neurodiversity talent strategy that will comprise 3% to 5% of their IT workforces.

Definition of Neurodiversity: A concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. Neurodivergent individuals are those whose brain functions differ from those who are neurologically typical, or neurotypical. These differences can include those labeled as bipolar disorder, dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, autistic spectrum and tourette syndrome.

The evidence shows that neurodivergent individuals have skills that map very well to technical roles in IT such as data analytics, AI and machine learning just to name three. These same roles are considered to be the ones that are hardest to hire for in the current climate and projections show this will continue.

HR has been largely “filtering out” neurodiverse candidates. Research shows that, while a high percentage (75%) of neurodivergent individuals are both qualified and eager to gain employment, only a small percentage actually are (14% in the U.S., 16% in the U.K., 38% in Australia).

CIOs are beginning to realize there is value in the diversity of thought that neurodiverse employees bring. A number of prominent organizations such as BNY Mellon, Chevron, SAP, Microsoft and VMware have reformed their HR processes in order to access neurodiverse talent.

From a productivity perspective, neurodivergent employees help organizations achieve their strategic objectives sooner. For example, JPMorgan Chase found that autistic workers took just three to six months versus the usual three years to do the same level of work in its Mortgage Banking Technology division. They were also 50% more productive, according to the CIPD report (see Neurodiversity at Work). 

CIOs aiming to gain a competitive advantage in the talent war should implement a neurodiversity program. Successful programs have shown many benefits, far outweighing the costs.

 

By 2023, 75% of companies will have an EVP tailored for attracting and retaining technology talent across borders.

Definition of EVP: Employee value proposition (EVP) is the set of attributes that the labor market and employees perceive as the value they gain through employment in the organization. Gartner’s EVP framework includes 38 attributes that roll up into five broad categories: rewards, opportunity, organization, people and work.

While most organizations promote their products and services to different customer segments with a branding strategy and a strong value proposition, far fewer realize the importance of communicating and delivering a differentiated EVP to attract and retain technology talent.

As many businesses across the globe reset their strategies and accelerate digital transformation, the demand and competition for technology talent will intensify. Job postings must stand out in order to capture targeted candidates’ attention. CIOs that rely on corporate boilerplate EVP messages in marketing IT offers, risk overemphasizing general organization and people category attributes that overlap with many competitors’ offers. IT candidates want to know more about how you differentiate in rewards, opportunity and work categories. The challenge for crafting a differentiated EVP for attracting technology talent will be how to balance core attributes reflecting corporate culture and values with specific attributes aligning with technology talent preferences.

Although remote work now allows CIOs to target qualified candidates outside of their typical geographic markets, it will no longer be viewed as a differentiator in a job offer like it was prepandemic. CIOs also face a new challenge of adapting rewards, organization and work attributes for engaging and retaining employees who choose to relocate either temporarily or permanently to another state or country as remote working is proven feasible and effective. Considerable focus will be needed in building a global talent brand, raising awareness and building a unified front with each geographic market or region having its own personality to support diverse needs and preferences of technology talent.

 

By 2021, 70% of hiring processes of new CIOs will highly rank two critical personal characteristics: determination and sensitivity.

Determination is a firmness of resoluteness, a firmness in turning decisions into actions no matter how tough they are. Whether the decision has been made by the leader or received from superiors, determination is the execution angle of decisiveness. Sensitivity is the quality of feeling empathetic toward others’ difficulties, and acting accordingly to soften the pain.

There is an increasing demand for the determination competency in 2020. Hiring processes for executive positions that require such competency have increased 34% in 2020 versus 2019. In the case of sensitivity, the increase is a shocking 92% in 2020 versus 2019. Both competencies are in the top 10 of increasing demand. We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and will continue increasing over the next few years.

Be mindful of the implications for your enterprise and for your professional career. If recruiters are paying attention to those two competencies, it is because enterprises want those profiles. It is unrealistic to believe that it applies to new hires only: it is an expectation for existing employees, too — you included.

This signifies that “pandemic mode” is still deeply rooted in CEOs’ minds. They are unsettled about the future, still foreseeing difficult times to come, which is why they want executives capable of weathering crises. Clearly display that you are not only a timely decision maker, but also a determined executive who implements your decisions (or the decisions you receive from above). Avoid being dubious or overly cautious — these characteristics are the opposite of determination. But do not mistake determination for heartlessness. When such decisions affect people seriously (furloughs, layoffs, work-life balance, etc.), be tactful and human to ease their pain.

 

By 2025, 50% of large-enterprise IT leaders will require operations technology management (OTM) skills to support artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented intelligence.

Definition of OTM: Operations technology management (OTM) is a branch of management focused on designing, managing, and improving processes and company activities related to the production, fulfillment and distribution of goods and services.

The need for talent to support the technologies of AI and augmented intelligence is well-understood, and a perennial concern shared by CEOs and CIOs alike. The roles that are needed include data scientists, machine learning engineers, computational linguists and operations research experts. What does not get discussed at all is what manager skills are required to manage the employees with these skills. The manager skills to support operationalizing these technologies should not be ignored.

IT managers do not need to have deep expertise in these skills, though they should have more than a cursory level of knowledge to understand the operational opportunities and impacts of technology. IT leaders need to be versatilists, with a combination of semideep expertise in their IT domain, people skills, and, because of AI and augmented intelligence, OTM skills.

The OTM skill set has historically only resided in the operations line of business. But with the growth in deployment of AI and augmented talent, CIOs and their teams are even more critical to the delivery of digital goods and services. Thus, IT leaders need OTM skills so they can effectively manage the IT employees that contribute to the operational outcomes.

 

These 5 predicts have been developed by: Lily Mok, Yuko Adachi, Christie Struckman, Rob O’Donohue, Dwight Klappich, Daniel Sanchez-Reina.

 

If you want to know more about practical recommendations to address those predicts, see “Predicts 2021: CIOs Must Adjust Talent and Leadership Direction for Digital Acceleration” (Gartner subscription required).

 

May wisdom and courage be with you.

Daniel Sanchez-Reina

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— I will be looking forward to talking to you. Feel free to schedule an inquiry call (inquiry@gartner.com), follow me on Twitter (@DanielSnchezRna) or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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