How to Jump-Start a Digital Transformation Strategy

By: Crystal Bedell| - Leave a comment


IT departments are no strangers to staffing shortages. For years the mantra has been “do more with less,” but the current focus on digital transformation has brought the talent challenge to a head. Before it can execute a digital transformation strategy, IT must undergo a transformation of its own — one focused on hiring.

In a survey conducted by IDT, 80 percent of businesses cited digital transformation as a priority, and yet only 35 percent of respondents report their business has a clearly defined digital transformation strategy. The challenge is not in the act of writing the strategy itself, but rather in finding and sourcing talent to execute a strategy. After all, it does no good to have a strategy if you lack the resources to carry it out.

How to Approach a Digital Transformation Strategy

According to a study from The Hackett Group, one of the biggest challenges mid-sized and large businesses face with digital transformation is finding and sourcing the right skills in their team. “Businesses recognize that their ability to manage through whipsawing business conditions, fend off intensified competition, and execute their own innovation-centric strategies, ultimately comes down to the caliber of their talent,” write the report’s authors.

It’s not for a lack of trying. The Hackett Group found that IT is focusing on the acquisition and development of critical talent. However, “the broader underlying issue is the need to source hard-to-find critical skills,” the authors write. “While IT organizations would prefer to maintain such skills internally, many are at a structural disadvantage to compete for talent. For example, the company employment brand may not be compelling enough to attract candidates with appropriate skills. And, even if talent can be hired from the outside, high turnover rates are a risk. This will force IT organizations to identify alternative avenues to obtain skills in high demand.”

Bottom line? Recruitment strategies need to navigate the business’ shortcomings just as much as those of the talent that’s out there.

Technical skills are obviously a must-have. IT organizations are looking for candidates with predictive analytic skills, as well as cloud and application development know-how. But it’s also important that candidates have business acumen and can strategically apply technical innovation to the business. Faced with a shortage of candidates, IT organizations must find “alternative avenues” to obtain these skills.

Powering This Transformation With Millennials

There are a couple options by which IT organizations can acquire the skills they need to get a strategy off the ground. The first is through IT-as-a-service (ITaaS), a model by which a technology provider delivers commoditized IT services for a monthly fee. These services are often managed by the provider, thereby freeing up internal IT staff to train for and execute on strategic projects, such as a digital transformation initiative.

Some ITaaS providers offer a catalog of services that also include more strategic outsourcing services. Procuring these services from a well-known enterprise provider can give organizations access to top talent they wouldn’t otherwise be able to attract on their own. IT can take advantage of the same talent pools that enable the market leaders to stay ahead of the pack, outpacing their own competition.

If they do choose to recruit for critical skills, IT organizations should be careful not to overlook millennials. Only 39 percent of the individuals surveyed by Epicor Software Corporation said that recruiting millennials was a “fairly significant” or “major” focus, displaying a critical disconnect between IT’s need for tech-savvy talent and the focus of their recruitment efforts. According to Epicor, technology leadership and a skilled workforce are top growth stimulants that today’s highly connected, technologically advanced millennials can well facilitate.

Regardless of whether IT organizations choose to procure ITaaS, outsource IT services or hire additional staff, a new approach to obtaining critical skills is a vital prerequisite for any digital transformation strategy. As Babette Ten Haken wrote in her article on digital disruption, “Digital disruption and transformation consists of people interacting with corporate culture, information, processes, systems and models. Until human capital strategy is incorporated into digital business model creation, organizations will be stuck spinning their wheels somewhere between learning, exploring and testing new ways of acquiring and interpreting data.”

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About The Author

Crystal Bedell

Freelance Writer

Crystal Bedell is a freelance technology writer specializing in security, cloud computing and mobility. As the principal of Bedell Communications, she helps technology providers and IT media companies create engaging thought leadership content. Prior to Bedell Communications, Crystal worked for TechTarget where she was the editor of for eight years. She is based in Spokane, Washington, where she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.

Articles by Crystal Bedell
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