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Bridging IT Skills Gaps to Transform Your Business

Nov. 20, 2015
James A. Dilanni


IT organizations are increasingly being held accountable to bring digital value to the business and participate as a strategic partner. To this end, IT organizations must ensure they have the right skills at the right time to support the strategic direction of the business and contribute overall ROI. Deploying an IT skills framework provides an opportunity for IT organizations to determine their level of readiness by identifying where skill gaps exist.


Rapid advances in technology are forcing organizations to radically change their business processes, their organizational structure, how they position themselves in a globally competitive market, and how functional areas within the business work together to achieve common goals and ultimately – business value. Business transformation affects not only all functional areas within the business, but it also has a significant impact on how effectively IT departments can align with strategic and organizational objectives to ensure that technology solutions and services drive a measurable value for the business.

Increasingly, chief information officers (CIOs) are being required to transform the way the IT department supports the business. CIOs need to become key business partners with a seat at the table and are equally held accountable for the digital value that technology brings to business. The old way of adopting and implementing new technology without justification, or satisfy specific "one-off" problems, or to drive technology strategy based upon the attitude of, "Well that's what we know best," is no longer appropriate. Today's fast-paced competitive environment where businesses want to control costs while maximizing revenue, profit margin, and value to the customer demands more.

There are many facets associated with transforming the IT department into a strategic business partner. Factors that are usually overlooked include determining what IT skills are needed, what IT skills are already in place, and how the necessary IT skills are acquired. The reality is that in many organizations, the necessary IT skills tend to lag behind the necessary technology required to support the business. Rarely, is enough emphasis placed on ensuring that IT organizations are "skill ready" with the right skills at the right time.

One way in which this skills gap can be bridged is to embark on an effort to define the necessary skills, assess the skills gap, and close that gap with professional development and training to acquire the new skills that are needed. Organizations can embrace and deploy an IT skills framework that will enable IT to become a strategic business partner. Ultimately, positioning them to transform the business. This paper addresses the necessary steps for deploying an IT skills framework, as well as the opportunities, challenges, best practices, benefits, and strategic results that facilitate business transformation.

Game Changers

There are three primary game changers that are driving business transformation with respect to having the right IT skills at the right time.

1. Emerging Technology

I view emerging technology as being multifaceted. First, it's about the technology itself. Second, it's about how that technology is deployed, adopted, and consumed. Third, you must consider how the technology is being managed.

The trends in emerging technology are currently focused in five major areas: cloud, mobile, social, data, and security. These trends impact the way IT organizations must support the business. Employees need to acquire new IT skills in order to understand how these emerging technologies can drive business value, both internally and externally. Emerging technologies such as new licensing and consumption models for cloud-based services and their impact on expenditures and costs such as capital expenditures (CAPEX), operational expenditures (OPEX), and total cost of ownership (TCO), require new IT skill sets.

New IT skills that are required for managing the adoption of emerging technology, such as software asset management, governance, service level management, etc., are emerging along with the technology itself. The question is, "Are your IT employees sufficiently ready and skilled enough to effectively support the adoption, implementation, consumption, and management of emerging technologies?"

2. Evolving Workforce

Today's IT workforce is segmented across three generations of people and it's rapidly including a fourth generation. This generational influx and shift is shaping how people want to work, the type of work they want to perform, and their expectations about how technology is used. Bring your own device (BYOD) and bring your own application (BYOA) are two trends that are transforming the workplace. This is placing more pressure on IT organizations to support these trends by establishing the supporting infrastructures. Increasingly, there is more emphasis on the ability to work remotely, have flexible work hours, and a trend to be less committed to a long-term job.

3. Customer Expectations

Customers are expecting more services and are becoming accustomed to mobile services, the freedom to choose products and services, and being provided with a strong value proposition. The Internet of Everything (IoE), which brings together people, process, data, and things, is transforming how IT organizations can more effectively enable businesses to support their customer base.

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