IT Talent Crisis? Gartner Says Get Creative - InformationWeek

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10/6/2015
10:05 AM
David Wagner
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IT Talent Crisis? Gartner Says Get Creative

Gartner CIO Symposium gives CIOs a hint about the talent shortage. It might not be as bad as you think if you're willing to get creative.

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At the start of the Gartner CIO Symposium on Oct. 5, the main topic of analysts has been strategy for CIOs for the coming year, but resonating through several of these presentations has also been a very tactical problem -- a lack of talent.

Interestingly enough, Gartner doesn't think there is a lack of talent, not even a lack of IT talent. There's just a lack of talent in your department. It turns out you might be looking in the wrong place for talent.

Let's put together a few quotes from Monday's keynote presentations so you can see what I mean.

Senior President of Gartner Research Peter Sondergaard said, "The consumer technology market is now bigger than the enterprise technology market. Partially as a consequence of that, there are now more tech savvy people working outside of your IT department than in it."

"It is time to rebalance the IT department," said Mary Mesaglio, a Gartner Research vice president. "If a business process isn't crucial to your enterprise or it doesn't differentiate you, divest it. Let others do it. But never divest of innovation capability or digital strategy."

Mary Mesaglio, VP Gartner Research, speaks at the Gartner CIO Symposium morning keynote.

(Image: David Wagner)

Mary Mesaglio, VP Gartner Research, speaks at the Gartner CIO Symposium morning keynote.

(Image: David Wagner)

"Less than half of CEOs, around 49%, think there is a talent crisis. Two thirds of CIOs think there is," said Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner Fellow, "When CEOS think of talent they think across the board of the enterprise. CIOs only think within IT."

All of these quotes create a picture of the problem with CIOs. According to Aron, for five years when they've asked CIOs what their biggest barrier to success is, they say staff talent levels, but in those five years when they asked what CIOs are doing about it, most say they are doing nothing or that they are working more closely with recruiters or universities.

None are looking for other places for sourcing talent.

Aron told a story of a Chinese company called Baidu that has a unique view of managing people. Rather than attaching people to managers, "managers don't own people," Aron said. Instead, people can pick projects they are interested in and work for managers they like. This way talent flows to the projects that are most interesting or most valued to the company.

Talent is no longer "IT" and "non-IT."

Qualified people work on what they are qualified to work on.

Even if you can't convince your CEO to radically re-design the way your company does business, you need to rethink the talent that works for you. First, you can scout talent in other parts of the organization. Tech savvy and IT skills are now everywhere. And when you can't find them, as Masaglio points out, you can buy them to do all but your most important business processes.

Also, you don't need people to work "for you."

Your influence matters just as much.

In the keynote today, Sondergaard pointed out that in 2005, IT controlled 70% of technology spend. By 2017, it will be less than half. But that could be good news. Sondergaard said, "Technology ownership has shifted and talent has shifted. All of these factors have expanded the universe of technology management outside of your control. But that doesn't have to be bad news. Accept the reality that you control a smaller part, but you now have more resources to draw on outside your organization. Influence scales. Control does not."

[This should be especially helpful for government CIOs. Read 10 IT Hiring Trends Confounding Public, Private Sector CIOs. ]

In other words, your goal as a CIO or manager isn't just accumulating talent on your team. You're better off locating and influencing talent through your whole enterprise. Doing so might allow you to see what CEOs see -- it isn't a lack of talent or skills, just where you are looking.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 4:05:09 PM
Re: Shortage in Their Minds
@David, Most assuredly, its better than its ever been.  However, in most fortune 2000 companies the head person of the IT group still does NOT report to the CEO.  When the majority of corporations have their lead IT person as part of the executive decision group we'll have the culture change that's needed for best results.  Change rarely occurs from the bottom up. Until then the IT group is still treated like the unwanted step-child in most organization.  A good example is when finding a Hana expert is considered an "IT" problem and not a problem for the business.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/15/2015 | 3:41:54 PM
Re: Shortage in Their Minds
@ddurbin- I have no doubt that's true some places. But cultures change. CIOs need to take an active part in changing the culture. We know of some organiztions that have croken through on those problems.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 3:36:53 PM
Re: Shortage in Their Minds
@David, This is not something new.  I've been an IT pro for 42 years now and still kicking (knock on wood).  It's not been the IT department or IT personnel that have kept them separated or out of the business.  Crossing the moat and storming the business walls just gets you fired.  From career day one its always needed to be a team effort but telling this to the IT group is like singing to the choir.  The problem is not with "techies" wanting to remain geeks but with the business side stereo-typically treating them in this manner.  This relationship continues to get better as the technology continues to be better unstood by the business and vice versa.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/15/2015 | 3:13:27 PM
Re: Shortage in Their Minds
No, it is true. Your SAP Hana experts are IT's problem. on the other hand, HANA is producing a lot of data IT needs to take that data and present it in a useful way to the business. That's where the non-IT department talent can help.

I think the issue here is that when IT pros think of IT, they think of machines and processes. When the rest of the enterprise thinks of IT they think of what It does for the business. what the business wants is frictionless technology. If the talent outside of the department can help translate IT to the business so that it seems like it is frictionless, it frees up the hardcore talent to get the technology done. 

It is all about how you leverage resources to deliver service, not technology.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 3:08:17 PM
Re: Shortage in Their Minds

@David, Yes the article is directed to "department" talent in the business since "consumer" technology has permeated the work place.  But you're not going to find an SAP Hana expert in the user ranks of the accounting department.

David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/15/2015 | 1:55:25 PM
Re: Shortage in Their Minds
@ddurbin1- They're not saying there is no talent shortage in IT. They're saying that talent is more spread than it used to be. So CIOs need to look in new places for it. Some of the best IT talent isn't working in IT anymore. 

I mean, one thing is always true, and Gartner doesn't deny this, is that we all wish we had all the smart people. In that way, there is always a shortage of talent. 

But the point is that we are looking at IT talent as only people working in IT on IT teams. But all over enterprises are digital natives with training in technology, analytics, etc. Tapping into those sources informally or formally will help with your talent shortage.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
10/7/2015 | 10:15:07 AM
Shortage in Their Minds
So Gartner says there's NO talent shortage but the majority of CEOs believe there is.  What the CEO and probably the CIO are really saying is there's no talent available to work for the wages they want to pay in the timing they are needed.  It's also the only reason H-1B visas exists.  Let say Gartner is wrong and there is a shortage.  What have the fortune 1000 companies done to solve this problem over the past 25 years since H-1B has very actively been applied to technology jobs?  Most have done absolutely nothing.   It's called investing in your employees which has become a lost concept for technology personnel.  Instead corporations want to buy what they want when they want it with little in the way of planning for technology personnel needs.  This is a big change from the 60s, 70, and 80s when corporations developed their talent and kept investing in them to the advantage of both.  As in Aesop's Fable, it's a grasshopper IT world today when it should be an ant world.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/6/2015 | 1:44:07 PM
Re: Talent and Control
@jastroff- I think we've seen the CIO changing for a while. I think that's why we're finding so many people with art degrees and former jobs as teachers and other random backgrounds. I think the role is becoming increasingly about vision. And vision is found in different types.

One thing i'll probably be writing about later this week is a Gartner analyst said yesterday that 75% of CIOs can be classified as "intuitive thinkers" where only 57% of other executives can be. That's interesting since we often consider IT to be a very logical place. CIOs seem to be bucking a trend in what we think of IT pros.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
10/6/2015 | 1:41:05 PM
Re: Talent and Control
@dave

>> tech is changing fast and you're the only one who can keep track of it all. Your knowledge makes you invaluable.

so the CIO role expands -- will a new type of person  take up the role?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/6/2015 | 1:37:16 PM
Re: Talent and Control
@jastroff- True enough. Though while you are losing the budget, you have a real advantage as a CIO-- tech is changing fast and you're the only one who can keep track of it all. Your knowledge makes you invaluable.
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