There’s that buzz phrase again: Digital Transformation. We’ve been writing about this business trend for two years now, and the buzz refuses to subside. Why? Because this movement is big and irreversible.
An article in the MITSloan Management Review defines it as the “use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of the enterprise.” And radical is the correct word. Consider the case of Walmart versus Amazon. Five years ago would you have predicted Walmart, a pillar of the retail industry with a foundation of more than 5000 physical locations, would be battling with e-commerce titan Amazon for digital customers and foot traffic?
Digital technologies such as mobile devices and cloud platforms have the power to make vertical markets horizontal and horizontal markets vertical at a dizzying pace. For example, analysts estimate that more than 1.6 billion people worldwide will buy goods and services online this year. By 2021, this group of “digital buyers” is expected to exceed 2 billion.
There’s a substantial obstacle, though, blocking organizations from meeting this demand: Finding and adding tech talent. Researchers at McKinsey & Company calculate that companies can yield double-digit investment savings by accelerating digital transformation 20%-30% through adding skilled tech workers. But easier analyzed than done.
"The breadth and pace of innovation point to a widening skills gap, putting further pressure on organizations," Amy Carrado, senior director of research and market intelligence for CompTIA, told Baseline magazine. "Organizations testing the waters with the internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and other emerging technologies face even greater skills gaps due to the fast-moving nature of these innovations. It takes time for training materials to reach the market and for opportunities to gain hands-on experience to arise."
Carrado co-authored CompTIA’s Assessing the IT Skills Gap study, which was based on insights from a survey of 600 IT and business executives. She and her fellow researchers found most corporate managers worry about skills deficits in five major areas of business technology:
- IoT and AI – 59%
- Cloud Infrastructure and Apps – 57%
- Digital Transformation and Legacy Modernization – 57%
- Cybersecurity – 55%
- Software and App Development – 55%
When CompTIA asked about strategies for addressing these skills gaps, respondents stressed techniques within the existing workforce pipeline. The top five cited were:
- Better ways to provide on-the-job experience, such as internships.
- Better ways to provide intense job training, such as apprenticeships.
- Early student exposure to careers in IT.
- Certifications and credentials to validate skills and knowledge.
- Better assessments and methods for evaluating the skills of job candidates.
When reviewing these results, our response was: Why is the focus entirely internal? Yes, each strategy will contribute to narrowing a tech skills gap -- in the long term. For the short run, corporate planners should look outside their organizations and consider support from IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs). Why? Because many MSPs already possess the technical talents to advance a company’s digital capabilities. Why wait for future staff to deliver tomorrow what a great MSP can bring to your business today?