Attracting talent will be key to digital success

Friday 4 October 2013

The expertise of highly skilled IT contractors, managers and business analysts is likely to come under renewed demand in the next few years, after a study by Gartner found that a lack of digital business capability could strip some firms of their competitive edge.

According to the survey of more than 150 recruiters and decision-makers for digital business strategies, around nine out of ten respondents believed that competition to find and hire the right skills will make or break their organisation’s success in the digital sphere. It is well documented that businesses in the 21st century are turning towards technology both to streamline their processes and provide better customer service, but it seems that digital operations are vital to strategy as a whole. More than 50 per cent said that digital accounted for at least part of their business strategy overall.

“The next decade will move beyond the notion of using technology to automate businesses and toward positioning technology as revenue builder, market maker and customer finder,” says Diane Morello, Gartner managing vice president.

“The impact of digital business will be undeniable: It will introduce new business models, cause industries to be 'digitally remastered' and change the way that businesses put great minds to work.”

Ms Morello adds that digital business has leapt up the agenda for executives in a very short space of time. It has already become a kind of unifying language for different types of organisations dotted around the world, having utterly transformed the way firms communicate with each other, internally and especially with their customers.

For companies still looking to expand their reach and test the waters of the digital domain, Gartner says that personnel with all of the right key skills need to be engaged and brought together into a community, sharing best practice and learning from each other. Significantly, Gartner also says that these skills will have to be cultivated inside and outside of each business using “multiple employment models” - meaning that permanent staff will have to be combined with the highly sought and often business-critical freelancers and contract workers.

Remote working is a definite possibility, with Gartner suggesting that recruiters will need to look around the world and recruit staff from all locations and using different ways of working.

“Relying solely on tactics of yesterday to find, acquire and develop digital business knowledge, skills and competencies will cause many businesses to fall behind as other businesses advance,” says Ms Morello. She added that the impact on HR practices and workforce strategy will be substantial, while those business that are willing to “break through stale or aging people practices” are likely to gain an advantage.

A shortage of digital expertise around the world is certainly nothing new. The Hays Global Skills Index recently found that as the economy is returning to growth, the extent of the skills gap in some industries is becoming painfully obvious- so much so, in fact, that Hays is calling on governments to actively encourage the use of freelance talent. But it does mean that for contractors in both the business and technical spheres who have the right skillset, the opportunities could be huge.

By Victoria McDonnell

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