The Talent Gap Grows

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted Monday, January 14, 2013 12:01 PM
 
 

By Samuel Greengard

The last few years haven't been particularly easy for CIOs. Mobility and social media have turned conventional IT upside down, consumer devices have overrun the enterprise, and customers and employees increasingly dictate the direction IT takes. Managing an ever-growing array of data streams and departmental initiatives falls somewhere between difficult and impossible.

But the fallout isn't limited to systems and devices. Sixty-seven percent of the 1,465 readers who recently responded to a CIO Insight online poll say a talent gap exists. Only about 17 percent say they have the right skills to navigate this new era and another 16 percent aren't sure.

Personally, I find it rather shocking that one-third of the survey respondents think they're steaming along just fine or don't have a clue. Either they're somehow insulated from the mind-bending technology changes now taking place in the business world or they are at risk of making a miscalculation of titanic proportions.

Online IT and engineering career site Dice reports that it's becoming more difficult to fill key technology positions. Nearly half of all hiring managers say they're having a difficult time finding qualified applicants. What's more, hiring managers and recruiters now see candidates asking for higher pay, as well as an uptick in counteroffers. Suddenly, areas such as mobile app development, Java/J2EE, and big data and data analytics have emerged at the center of the IT universe.

The convergence of mobility, social media, geolocation data and various other forms of structured and unstructured data isn't making things any easier. Demands on organizations are growing rapidly. "There is particularly a shortage of business analytics expertise," observes Nick Millman, analytics technology lead for Accenture Consulting. Moving forward, he says, CIOs must have a clear idea of what skills are available in-house and what skills are necessary to recruit in the external market.

However, it's also critical to hire IT professionals that think in entirely different ways and approach problems and challenges from an entirely new perspective that steps beyond the conventional bounds of IT. "The tools and technologies of the past don't necessarily work well in the present," Millman says. "We are entering an era where certain key IT skills will be at a shortage." CIOs, he concludes, must collaborate with human resources executives to fashion a more compelling and attractive place to work.