by Diana Bersohn

Now is the time for an IT workforce checkup

Dec 08, 2017
CIOIT JobsIT Leadership

CIOs must ensure their IT workforce is prepared to handle emerging technologies and can meet business needs.

New technologies are emerging all the time, and CIOs must understand the capabilities needed to meet the needs of “New IT” and the right blend of humans and machines to deliver those capabilities. They must also know the skills and competencies needed to shape a strong workforce fit to support the organization as it evolves.

To determine whether a workforce is fit for the future, IT leaders need to evaluate the organization’s maturity level across seven dimensions (see below). By examining these areas, they can make decisions about critical components of the IT workforce, including the right personas and skills for the future, how to source those skills, how teams work together, and how to measure performance.

But the clock is ticking. CIOs need to get ahead of change and make decisions about the workforce now that will prepare the organization as it leaps forward.

Assessing the IT workforce

To build a future workforce for IT, CIOs must understand where their workforce is today. Business priorities and the technologies that enable them may be quite different than previously thought, and the workforce must evolve to support those priorities.

CIOs can help ensure alignment of IT workforce and technology as the business strategy evolves by exploring these dimensions: 

  1. Talent strategy and alignment. Successful CIOs not only create a talent strategy aligned to business goals, but they also actively monitor the strategy and revise as needed to continually support objectives. Furthermore, the technology workforce must know what it’s working towards. Everyone must understand the mission, vision and direction of IT so that every worker can rally behind and support strategic goals.
  2. Leadership and culture. Employees need to believe in the IT “brand.” That means understanding technology’s role in enabling profitable growth and adopting a new mindset about technology work. Is IT known to be an innovative organization and a great place to work? Leading CIOs are demonstrating the mindset — or the brand — of the organization to help shape a cohesive culture. People also need training to understand what is expected of them, as well as the access to and training in relevant tools that equip them to thrive in new environments.
  1. Organizational and talent architecture. The organization design and structure must align with the IT operating model. A basic career architecture would include talent segments, roles, and jobs and illustrate how these roles map to the organizational structure. Advanced technologies can help CIOs guide this more dynamic, fluid workforce. For instance, analytics can assist in enabling career paths. Actively managing and monitoring HR data will enable CIOs to use a more personalized approach when helping individuals enhance their skills and establish career goals.
  2. Learning and skill transformation. Forward-thinking CIOs regularly assess the skills and competencies needed to ensure alignment of talent to key objectives. Companies can use tools such as the talent optimization platform ProFinda to non-intrusively look at the depth and breadth of employee skills. Technology also plays an important role in helping employees develop new skills. For instance, analytics can be used to inform a learning architecture that identifies which courses, channels, and curriculum are needed to support individual skill development. Online learning platforms that link to the talent architecture, along with collaborative workforce tools, make it easier for people to enjoy customized learning experiences.
  3. Ways of working and employee experiences. Companies have been focused on transforming the digital customer experience. Now it’s time to focus on the digital employee experience. To do that, businesses must invest in and fully utilize digital tools for collaboration, coordination, and work. Forward-thinking CIOs can infuse emerging technologies and encourage new ways of working, such as design thinking and agile methods. Emerging tools such as Microsoft Teams, Confluence, Jira, and Github make it possible for teams to efficiently collaborate on projects, share ideas in real time, and spark innovation through agile development.
  4. Talent management capabilities. Leading CIOs have a strategy and capability for applying predictive talent analytics across the employee lifecycle to optimize workforce decisions. For instance, analytics can inform IT talent decisions related to hiring, employee engagement, learning, and leadership. CIOs should clearly outline skills and competencies needed for the future, such as complex problem solving, customer service, people management and judgment, collaboration, and decision making, as well as digital fluency and business acumen.
  5. Change enablement. Change management is an essential capability, especially as technologies are introduced and the business landscape is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Next-generation change and communication capabilities are digital, and they employ the latest tools, methodologies, and mediums — such as mobile and video. These tools allow employees to embrace change beyond one project. CIOs might also consider incorporating “nudge theory” concepts to gently move employees to embrace change and adopt new ways of working.

Time is of the essence

Evaluating these dimensions will help define the path forward for the future IT workforce. The next action for forward-thinking CIOs is to create a structured roadmap that outlines the initiatives for transforming and transitioning to the future workforce using a phased approach. Each step on that roadmap will get the IT organization closer to readiness.