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New Survey Reveals The Top Issue CIOs Overlook In The IT Industry (The Answer May Surprise You)

Have CIOs really dismissed the importance of talent acquisition in the IT industry?

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If you ask a CIO what is keeping him or her up at night, you will probably hear things like cyber security, cloud migrations, and shadow IT. Talent acquisition would likely not make even the top 10. And that may be a problem, because perhaps it should be causing some CIO insomnia. In fact, according to a recent survey commissioned by Sungard Availability Services*, 50% of the 276 respondents said they believe talent acquisition is overlooked in the IT industry.

There are several reasons why CIOs might not be giving appropriate priority to talent acquisition. First, they might figure that bringing in new talent is simple and straightforward: “What’s the beef? If we need someone, we’ll hire someone.”

Hiring is one thing. Perhaps you’ll luck out and your first interview candidate will be a great fit for your organization. But even so, onboarding is another kettle of fish altogether. It takes time, and it takes money. Employee turnover costs can be anywhere from 30% to 200% of a worker’s annual salary. If this number is surprising, just think about it for a moment. If you need to fill an IT role, it’s doubtful that you can hire someone who knows everything you need them to do. Between your company’s infrastructure, applications, legacy software, and all the rest of it, you can reasonably expect that it will take three to eight months of training for a “newbie” to become a productive member of your team, even if they are a mature IT professional. That’s not knocking the new guy or gal – it’s just life.

A second reason the importance of talent acquisition might be downplayed is due to a deification of outsourcing: “We can always outsource anything we need.”

Sorry, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Sure, there might be some IT functions you can outsource and have up and running tomorrow … but I haven’t encountered them yet. Even the best outsource provider has a ramp up time. They have to learn your company, your systems, and your processes, just like a new hire would.

And then there are the consequences of outsourcing: you don’t have that knowledge in-house. Are you okay with that? What if the outsource provider goes bankrupt or you have a major falling out with them? That could be a problem.

A third reason talent acquisition might be overlooked is because it is very easy to forget the connection between people and technology: “I’ve got bigger issues to worry about than the department headcount.” But the truth is, the core of IT isn’t your infrastructure or applications. It isn’t your data and analytics. It’s not even your processes and your procedures. How do I know? Because if you take away the people, IT comes to a screeching halt. People are the hub of IT. Everything else may be critical, but still secondary.

Spend a moment thinking about the three issues we mentioned upfront – issues that are probably keeping countless CIOs up at night:

  • Cyber security is nothing if you don’t have the people to keep your controls up to date
  • Cloud migrations disintegrate without people to take care of the myriad of moving parts involved in implementation
  • Shadow IT will take over the world unless you have people willing to weed it out and address the problems that gave rise to it in the first place

What’s the common denominator in defusing all of these potential threats? People. Therefore, what should be a top priority in the IT industry? Talent acquisition. Making sure you have the people necessary to handle the processes and the problems that make up an average day in IT.

Let’s be certain that the next time a survey is run in the IT industry, we get an overwhelming affirmative to the question, “Is talent acquisition a priority at your company?”

*The survey, conducted by SurveyMonkey Audience, reached 276 IT professionals and was completed in December 2014.

This article was originally posted on Forbes and Sungard Availability Services.

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