IT Talent Crisis? Gartner Says Get Creative

Gartner CIO Symposium gives CIOs a hint about the talent shortage. It might not be as bad as you think if you're willing to get creative.

David Wagner, Executive Editor, Community & IT Life

October 6, 2015

3 Min Read
<p align="left">Mary Mesaglio, VP Gartner Research, speaks at the Gartner CIO Symposium morning keynote.</p>

15 Hottest IT Jobs for 2016

15 Hottest IT Jobs for 2016

15 Hottest IT Jobs for 2016 (Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

At the start of the Gartner CIO Symposium on Oct. 5, the main topic of analysts has been strategy for CIOs for the coming year, but resonating through several of these presentations has also been a very tactical problem -- a lack of talent.

Interestingly enough, Gartner doesn't think there is a lack of talent, not even a lack of IT talent. There's just a lack of talent in your department. It turns out you might be looking in the wrong place for talent.

Let's put together a few quotes from Monday's keynote presentations so you can see what I mean.

Senior President of Gartner Research Peter Sondergaard said, "The consumer technology market is now bigger than the enterprise technology market. Partially as a consequence of that, there are now more tech savvy people working outside of your IT department than in it."

"It is time to rebalance the IT department," said Mary Mesaglio, a Gartner Research vice president. "If a business process isn't crucial to your enterprise or it doesn't differentiate you, divest it. Let others do it. But never divest of innovation capability or digital strategy."

"Less than half of CEOs, around 49%, think there is a talent crisis. Two thirds of CIOs think there is," said Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner Fellow, "When CEOS think of talent they think across the board of the enterprise. CIOs only think within IT."

All of these quotes create a picture of the problem with CIOs. According to Aron, for five years when they've asked CIOs what their biggest barrier to success is, they say staff talent levels, but in those five years when they asked what CIOs are doing about it, most say they are doing nothing or that they are working more closely with recruiters or universities.

None are looking for other places for sourcing talent.

Aron told a story of a Chinese company called Baidu that has a unique view of managing people. Rather than attaching people to managers, "managers don't own people," Aron said. Instead, people can pick projects they are interested in and work for managers they like. This way talent flows to the projects that are most interesting or most valued to the company.

Talent is no longer "IT" and "non-IT."

Qualified people work on what they are qualified to work on.

Even if you can't convince your CEO to radically re-design the way your company does business, you need to rethink the talent that works for you. First, you can scout talent in other parts of the organization. Tech savvy and IT skills are now everywhere. And when you can't find them, as Masaglio points out, you can buy them to do all but your most important business processes.

Also, you don't need people to work "for you."

Your influence matters just as much.

In the keynote today, Sondergaard pointed out that in 2005, IT controlled 70% of technology spend. By 2017, it will be less than half. But that could be good news. Sondergaard said, "Technology ownership has shifted and talent has shifted. All of these factors have expanded the universe of technology management outside of your control. But that doesn't have to be bad news. Accept the reality that you control a smaller part, but you now have more resources to draw on outside your organization. Influence scales. Control does not."

[This should be especially helpful for government CIOs. Read 10 IT Hiring Trends Confounding Public, Private Sector CIOs. ]

In other words, your goal as a CIO or manager isn't just accumulating talent on your team. You're better off locating and influencing talent through your whole enterprise. Doing so might allow you to see what CEOs see -- it isn't a lack of talent or skills, just where you are looking.

About the Author(s)

David Wagner

Executive Editor, Community & IT Life

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, leadership, and innovation. He has also been a freelance writer for many top consulting firms and academics in the business and technology sectors. Born in Silver Spring, Md., he grew up doodling on the back of used punch cards from the data center his father ran for over 25 years. In his spare time, he loses golf balls (and occasionally puts one in a hole), posts too often on Facebook, and teaches his two kids to take the zombie apocalypse just a little too seriously. 

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights