Just how bad is the IT talent crisis?

Read time 4 mins

Written February 2018

One in four CIOs sees the IT skills crisis as a bigger problem than funding. As CIOs come under pressure from the business, what’s the answer?

How bad is the IT talent crisis?

It’s bad. If you need statistics to prove it, then take your pick. According to PwC’s 2017 survey, only 52% of companies rated their digital IQ as strong. To put that in perspective, it was rated as 67% and 66% in 2016 and 2015 respectively. And one in four CIOs states the battle for talent is a top-three problem according to Gartner, ahead of funding challenges.

In fact, the talent crisis has already gone from bad to worse. Because there are challenges further upstream that will hit your business sooner rather than later. Just 2% of this year’s A Level exams were in ICT-related subjects; that’s just 15,000 future recruits, in a job market that already has 10 times that number of vacancies… every quarter.

What’s more, a recent report by the House of Lords outlines the potential drain on talent that will be caused by Brexit, because so many firms have hired EU workers rather than train home-grown talent. If those workers return to their homelands, where will the technology skills come from?

When it comes to talent the grass is always greener elsewhere, and the best people always seem to be working for someone else. Is that really the case though? It may be slightly easier for big brands ‒ and conversely, the funky start-ups ‒ to attract the brightest, shiniest IT graduates. But it seems that every business is struggling to retain talented individuals, once they’ve managed to find and recruit them. If you don’t lose them to another company between the interview and the start date, then expect them to be bombarded with job alerts from day one.

So what are businesses like yours doing to fill their IT departments, at a time when the strategic value of technology couldn’t be higher?

Outsourcing to an external IT provider

One answer is that talent-starved CIOs are looking beyond their own walls. Your best employees may be the ones who don’t need a desk, salary, or payslip ‒ effective use of outsourced or co-sourced IT services partners can provide the ideal balance between volume and depth of expertise.

If you can find the right external resources, and align them with your own business drivers and performance objectives, you can achieve deep integration between your corporate goals and your IT services without a massive upfront investment.

It’s a tall order. And perhaps not one you have time or resources to solve in-house. But trust us: when you get these factors right (or task someone to get them right alongside you), the result is a joy to behold. With experts proactively and preventatively addressing your IT issues, you’re giving your people the tools they need to perform to the best of their ability. And that will help meet your business goals, and keep users and customers happy.

And all this happening simply because you have access to the best possible skills for the resource requirement.

How outsourcing will help you get things done

We don’t have the space to give you a blueprint here ‒ you’ll need our new eGuide for that ‒ but we can give you three tips that will help you make the right choice of provider and get more done:

Tip 1: Choose a partner that brings a human approach to your business
Savvy IT leaders don’t select providers solely on the basis of technological expertise, crucial though that is. They also look for a partner with the analytical depth to understand the business demands of your organisation and its people. When an outsourced partner truly ‘gets’ your business and can work as part of your team, issues get solved a lot faster.

Tip 2: Make sure the external team is as connected as the internal team
Look for a personable provider, with the emotional intelligence and empathy to connect with your in-house team; a team that will share the goals of your own team. The way they connect will depend on what they’re like as people, but there are tools that will help bring you all closer. Look for multichannel, highly interactive and flexible connectivity between your outsourced partner and internal users – and you’ll soon forget there’s any difference between them.

Tip 3: Think strategically about how you employ them
This is the big one. Whenever you assign a process to outside help, you’re making a judgement as to where talent can best be used – which can be a huge boost to your people’s time, energy, and dedication. You may find a large percentage of your people’s time is taken up by routine tasks, for example. Putting hours back into the days of your talented people, to focus on strategic value-adding activities, may be your best move. Put the very best talent in a place where they’re available whenever you need them and watch the effect it has on your business.

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