Digital dummies demand HR/IT dalliance

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan September 30, 2013
Summary:
What's really going to hold back the transformation into a digital enterprise? How about plain old-fashioned incompetence? Gartner reckons an HR/IT alliance is needed to ignite the search for digital talent.

What's really going to hold back the transformation into a digital enterprise? How about plain old-fashioned incompetence?

According to Gartner, that's quite likely - with the research firm predicting that somewhere around a quarter of all organisations will find themselves undermined competitively by basic ineptness by that staple Gartner predictions date of 2017.

So you're going to need to up the smarts in the organisation and that's going to lead us to another skills shortage/hunt for talent set of scenarios.

During the second quarter of 2013, Gartner conducted a survey of 151 participants who were intimately involved in making digital business strategy decisions or in locating, developing and acquiring talent for those digital business strategy endeavors.

Ninety percent of them reckon that competition for talent will make or break digital business success.

There are various impacts as a result, argues Gartner in a new briefing report Talent on the Digital Frontier:

  • As digital business becomes the lingua franca of enterprises, CIOs must tap into technology expertise across organizations and business domains.
  • Revenue ambitions will go unmet if CIOs and senior executives ignore the cultural and organizational challenges that accompany digital business.

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Diane Morello, managing vice president at Gartner, said:

"Concern is justified. Digital business will concentrate almost exclusively on new sources of revenue derived from new products, services, channels and information for new customers and constituencies.

"On top of the expectation that digital business expertise will spread around businesses within two or three years, other indicators suggest that digital business represents not an extension of the past, but rather, a different trajectory.

"Revenue ambitions will go unmet if CIOs and senior executives ignore the cultural and organizational challenges that accompany digital business."

HR - your time has come

One winner in all this could be amibitous HR executives, second only perhaps to CIOs in their eternal lament that they're not taken seriously by the business and given a place on the board.

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Morello suggests:

"The quest for digital business expertise provides an undeniable opportunity for CIOs and HR executives to create a robust alliance that helps them meet their respective outcomes. Leading-edge CIOs become leading edge because their HR and talent strategy counterparts support them.

"Together, CIOs and HR talent executives scour the globe for qualified experts and talented people and bring them into their work streams, no matter their locations or their employment arrangements.

"Relying solely on tactics of yesterday to find, acquire and develop digital business knowledge, skills and competencies will cause many businesses to fall behind as other businesses advance.

"The impact on people, talent and long-term workforce strategy will be high, and the willingness to break through stale or aging people practices will build advantage."

So what should this new double-act of HR and IT be doing? Gartner recommends:

  • Identify key strategy players and possessors of technology and business expertise both inside and outside the enterprise.
  • Launch a digital business community of practice to enrich cross-business understanding.
  • If the industry in question is being morphed by early digital business competitors, move quickly to find, deploy and use external expertise.
  • Work in parallel, not serially, on internal development and planning.
  • Bring in people from outside with the required knowledge, skills and competencies — some as external experts, not necessarily as permanent employees.
  • CIOs need to learn to orchestrate talent and take advantage of global ecosystems of expertise to build digital expertise quickly.
  • Focus on hiring, developing and deploying versatile and multidisciplined teams of people.
  • Promote employee engagement as doing so will make the organisation more attractive to prospective employees and increase talent retention rates throughout the shift toward the digital strategy.

Morello concludes:

"Digital business — with its intense focus on using digital technology to glean new revenue from new customers, markets, products, services and channels — will permanently reshape and alter how CIOs and other executives find, develop and acquire knowledge, competencies and expertise."

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