Anticipating the ‘War for Talent’ and Preparing for the Future of IT in the Modern Enterprise

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IT matters more than ever to the overall health of the modern enterprise. Technology drives economic growth and development, and IT is still the place where technology and business come together.

That said, the extreme pace of technological change has caught many organizations off guard. Everyone is talking about cloud, mobile, social, big data and the Internet of Things, but relatively few IT leaders have taken the steps necessary to prepare their IT teams for tomorrow’s challenges. From my perspective, the first step is creating a vision for the future. The next step is developing a strategy for bringing that vision into reality. The third and absolutely critical step is assembling the people, process and technology that will enable the strategy and drive it forward.

When you look at that trio – people, process and technology – the easiest part is the technology. Most of the technology needed to support truly data-intensive business strategies already exists. The process piece is also well understood and generally accepted. The piece of the strategic puzzle that’s missing is people. That is why so many executives I know are talking earnestly and intensely about the looming ‘War for Talent.’

People with the skills, abilities, experience and character to get the job done are in short supply. Large companies compete fiercely for top talent, making it even harder for smaller firms to find and hire the best people.

The ‘War for Talent’ raises many complicated questions. Where do we look for talent? Can we “grow our own” talent with the right training programs? What is the right mix of in-sourcing and out-sourcing?

One pressing issue is developing the basic skills and capabilities required for moving ahead with big data initiatives. Some people say that it’s relatively easy for experienced DBAs to acquire the technical skills necessary for managing big data systems. Others say that handling big data requires special training and new styles of leadership. Some believe those skills and abilities can be taught in-house, while others aren’t so sure. Some people say that universities are the best places to look for data scientists, while others say that genuine business experience will always trump great technical skills.

It’s hard to predict the future, but that doesn’t relieve us from our responsibilities for envisioning that path forward and taking the steps needed to prepare the enterprise for a world in which IT will matter more than ever before.

You can read more about visionary IT thought leadership in my blog, The Transformational CIO, and in my newest book, Leading the Epic Revolution. (Wiley, 2013)

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