Implementing a digital strategy despite the immense skills shortage

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Every year I get the CIO Survey by Harvey Nash / KPMG. While the full report isn’t available until June 26th, some of the key findings are. In my opinion, of all the key findings, one in particular stands out. The immense skills shortage.

Skills shortage

The CIO Survey is conducted amongst about 4,000 IT leaders worldwide. Therefore, it gives a very adequate overview of the current state of businesses around the globe.

And while there are many interesting facts every year, the skills shortage is one that has been steadily growing over the past years. This year, 65% of all respondents claimed to have a problem with finding the right IT skills. This is the highest it has been since 2008, which is very alarming indeed.

The result of not being able to find the right skills leads to difficulties implementing a company’s digital strategy. It is therefore no surprise that 78% of all respondents said their digital strategy is only moderately effective, or worse.

Especially taking into consideration the fact that failing to correctly implement a good digital strategy is one of the main reasons companies fail to compete nowadays.

Let go of the faster horse

I believe that companies should actively look for different ways to solve the problem. Many are still trying to find more specialists, where there are none.

While it is tempting to think that we can get everyone to code, the simple fact is that it takes a certain profile to like coding. Just like it isn’t for everyone to be on stage presenting to a large audience, coding and other technical skills simply aren’t for everyone.

Taking this into account, managers should actively search for different kinds of solutions. Henry Ford famously said that people think they want a faster horse, while they really want easy transportation. In IT we should stop looking for that faster horse and instead find other ways to reach our goal.

One way is to look for solutions that actually allow a different type of person to create the software you need, for example. Tools are quickly becoming available that allow business creatives to implement their solutions themselves, instead of relying on skilled technical staff.

This alleviates the pressure to find more skilled people and at the same time increases the effectiveness of the company. A true win-win situation, that only requires managers to think out of the box.

With the skills shortage as high as it is now, companies simply cannot afford to keep looking for more and faster horses. They need to find cars.

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