Developing a Talent Pipeline for Your Digital Transformation

By Jeff Kavanaugh & Ravi Kumar S.

Companies in every industry are digitalizing their operations, and many are struggling to find the talent they need to do it. But not all. In a global survey of 1,000 business leaders, we set out to discover what companies that are good at staffing their digitalization projects do differently. We saw that they do a combination of four things.

They look for potential, not credentials

Given that the life cycle of any given technology skill (such as, fluency in a popular programming language) is only about two years, the clock on technical expertise quickly runs out. A stronger candidate, therefore, may be someone curious, adaptable and quick to learn. A candidate who worked as a teenager, or joined the military to pay for college, may be more motivated, resilient, agile and a better team player than someone from a more privileged situation.

They value soft skills as much as technical ones

Information-technology development used to be about writing a spec and coding it, but today it’s more about finding problems and creating solutions. For instance, with digitalization initiatives focused on improving how customers and employees interact with the company, so-called soft skills have become more important than technical ones.

They think about teams, not individuals

Companies will always need PhDs and MBAs to groom as future leaders. But the leaders in our survey are much more likely than poor performers to hire graduates with non-STEM degrees (76 percent to 39 percent), noncollege graduates with high aptitude scores (71 percent to 38 percent) and vocational or trade school graduates who can be valuable contributors to teams.

They incentivize employees to grow

Our leading companies are much more inclined than the laggards to reward higher skill levels with better compensation (67 percent to 41 percent), benefits (64 percent to 23 percent) and responsibility (78 percent to 58 percent). But, to our surprise, they do not offer significantly more training opportunities.

Jeff Kavanaugh is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Texas at Dallas. Ravi Kumar S. is president and deputy chief operating officer of Infosys.


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