New IT Skills Needed for Digital Transformation


Talent shortage is an obstacle to digital transformation

Digital transformation is at the top of the strategic agenda for enterprises for 2017, according to a recently published study by Forbes Insight. Half of the executives surveyed believe that the next two years are critical for their organizations to make the digital shift. Yet many CIOs are facing stiff competition for the talent they need to staff the positions required to transform their organizations. According to a study by the Hackett Group, the biggest roadblocks to digital transformation for mid-sized to large businesses is finding and sourcing talent with the right skills. From cybersecurity to data analytics expertise, the talent shortage is real and it’s delaying digital projects because many key positions are left open longer than normal.

Based on an analysis of job postings collected from more than 40,000 websites by Burning Glass, a labor market analytics firm, it takes employers more than three months (96 days), to fill a job requiring cloud security skills (which is almost double the IT industry average of 45 days).

What skills does IT need for the digital age?

Besides the challenge of finding new talent, CIOs are finding skills gaps in their existing organizations. A study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte found only 11% of respondents believe that their company’s current talent base can compete effectively in the digital economy. Today’s digital enterprises are based on agile systems with the capabilities to respond quickly to dynamic market changes or customer needs based on data delivered through real-time analytics. Those organizations embracing digital transformation are identifying new positions and encouraging continuous training to enable their IT teams with the skills needed to master emerging technologies, adopt new work models and new methodologies. 

Soft skills are in high demand

  • Strategic Thinking/Strategic Planning
  • Leadership/Providing Leadership
  • Systems Thinking/Holistic Thinking
  • Business Analysis
  • Change Management (Organizational)
  • Innovation/Innovative
  • Problem Solving
  • Emotional Intelligence/Empathy
  • Communication
  • Decision Making

Another area that CIOs are finding a large skills gap is with analysts needed to work with the advanced analytics environments associated with real-time data scenarios generated from the Internet of Things (IoT) and other information ecosystems, according to a recent Gartner annual global survey of nearly one-third of 2,598 CIOs. 

“Emerging technologies in fields such as cloud computing, mobility, and data and analytics, in addition to security and risk management, are permeating nearly every aspect of the IT landscape. It’s essential that IT professionals identify and fill the main technology—and effectiveness-related skills gaps now—otherwise, they risk impeding their organization’s progress toward strategic goals,” said John Hagerty, vice president and analyst at Gartner. 

Solutions for Narrowing the Skills Gap

CIOs are finding creative solutions to address the skills gap to avoid delaying or derailing progress toward digital transformation goals. A few of the solutions in use include:

  • Focusing on building expertise and agility versus the perfect skill set – CIOs are recognizing that hiring people with the attitude, aptitude, intelligence and agility to quickly pick up new skills as needed may be the pragmatic way of solving the current problem while building a flexible in-house team with diverse talents.
  • Leveraging managed or cloud services – Using these services saves resources and augments infrastructure or resources. New IP or cloud-based communications solutions that replace traditional on-premises PBX systems are not only saving operational costs but they’re also contributing to freeing up employee resources for managing and maintaining these systems and allowing the resources to focus on more strategic activities. Cloud or managed services to supplement needs in areas such as network security provide the much needed security expertise of a provider to supplement in-house resources.
  • Partnering – Leveraging long-term relationships with service providers with expertise in security, communications, networking or new technologies provides expertise the expertise that many in-house IT teams need to move projects forward.

With new technologies constantly emerging and creating a need for specific skills, CIOs are going to draw from solutions like these to ensure their success.