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Education IT Talent Development: Who Needs It, Anyway?

Universities can tap students, consultants and even offshore labor to fill work gaps, so why bother grooming staff? There are plenty of reasons.
9 Tips To Avoid IT Midcareer Slump
9 Tips To Avoid IT Midcareer Slump
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Short on talent in IT? Why worry? After all, there are plenty of consultants out there willing to help.

At a university, you can get plenty of college workers "on the cheap." If you're adventurous and willing to try something on the edge, there's always crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a fun and a somewhat disruptive process that will certainly deliver results. Hey, how about off-shoring to a country with lots of IT talent, like India? Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai have some of the best IT talent in the world. Take advantage of the "24-hour work clock."

So, there you have it: several easy ways to get access to talent and, poof, all your work is done. Now, on to the next task, right? Absolutely! Or is that, absolutely not?

Let's face it: None of us can do all of this IT stuff alone. We need help. We need consultants and vendors that we can partner with to get work done. We need constituents "outside of our domain" to help us see the forest from the trees. We need different thinking and perspectives to help us innovate. We need to engage student workers so we can teach, learn (yes, learn from students), and build a talent pool for the workforce.

[ Online learning is inspiring some colleges to update their approach. Read MOOCs Lead Duke To Reinvent On-Campus Courses.]

But let's get one thing straight: nothing happens without internal talent.

Someone has to integrate the work. Someone has the make the architectural decisions. Someone needs to define, design and run the IT processes. Someone has to understand the business processes. Someone has to speak business language. This stuff can't be done in an ad-hoc way if you want repeatable and reliable results. Internal talent is the differentiator!

You need top talent from your leadership team right through the entire workforce. You need dynamic thinkers, motivated workers and employees who have a passion for what they do. You need employees who don't think of work as "work." After-all, work is, well … work. But isn't it better when work is fun?

Where do you start? It begins with trust and a true concern for developing the talent on your team. Not just for the sake of the organization, but for the individual as well. It should come as no surprise that IT professionals want to progress in their domains. However, not necessarily by climbing the ladder to a director or CIO position. Many IT professionals are in the field because they have a passion for it (OK, not everyone, but call me an optimist). If you haven't done so already, assess your team. Assess them from the following perspectives: