How CIOs Build the Talent Pipeline

5 actions CIOs should take to access talent and avoid skills gaps.

As organizations shift to digital, the pressure is on to find the right talent. CEOs want to know where companies need to invest in expertise to drive competitive advantage and they rank workforce as the third highest priority. Meanwhile, CIOs rank skills and resources as their number one barrier to success.

Part of the pressure is that companies are shifting to software and software engineering.

“Many organizations are under significant transformation,” said Diane Morello, vice president and Gartner Fellow, at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 in Orlando, Florida. “We’ve spoken to several dozen CIOs who say their companies, organizations… have changed the focal point of the business towards software engineering.”

Most organizational talent planning is too short.

This means that a life sciences company might shift to become a software company with a specialty in life sciences.

Part of the challenge is that most organizational talent planning is too short. With 59% of talent planning being less than one year, companies that are feeling the talent bind most likely failed to plan out far enough.

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Ms. Morello recommended five actions CIOs companies can take to prepare for the future.

Action 1: Elevate skills and talent to a true priority

Many CIOs say that talent is a priority, but rank people/workforce as one of their most disliked tasks. However, the ability to anticipate and orchestrate skills and expertise could become a way to characterize CIO success in the future. If CIOs can be responsible for finding talent at the time of or before companies need it, it could become a part of the leadership for the future.

Action 2: Build a long runway for skills and talent

Creating a runway for talent is about building up the pipeline so it can handle the ambitions of the future. Strong executives should be thinking about people in terms of three different timelines at the same time. First, ensure that the present workforce has the capabilities to handle the present business. Second, in the midterm, look to identify the knowledge and talent that will drive the potential of the business, said Ms. Morello. Finally, long term, consider how to prepare the present workforce for a different future.

Action 3: Experiment with new talent and work models

In an effort to create a flow of talent, Uber asks recently hired developers for the top two or three developers they’ve worked with and then makes job offers to those to exponentially grow their talent platform. Start to experiment with ways to find ideas and talent such as techquisitions. 

Action 4: Bolster talent pipelines through universities

GM recently decided to establish a manufacturing center in Toronto that will need to hire approximately 1,000 employees per year. The company is working with the University of Ontario to change the curriculum to develop software engineers to fuel their pipeline. While many companies already have university programs, the current setup doesn’t allow for the amount of talent that will be necessary in the future. Consider co-sponsoring hackathons or exploring maker labs as a way to access younger talent.

Action 5: Build a trusted alliance with HR strategists

Sixty-five percent of leaders say their HR executives are true strategists who analyze complex situations to prepare for the long term, so it’s important to build an alliance. CIOs want to be trusted allies of top executives and HR is a good place to build alliances. Find the HR strategist whose job is most intimately tied with you rsuccess and build a relationship.

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