An ever-changing economic landscape means UK Chief Information Officers (CIOs) across multiple industries continue to face a number of challenges. So much so that according to Barclaycard research, three quarters (76%) are concerned about finding the right talent to drive their businesses forward, and keep that momentum going. Yet in an uncertain and highly competitive market, more than half (51%) worry they won’t be able to recruit enough employees with the right level of technical skills after Britain leaves the European Union. But how is the rate of technological change posing a threat, and what can be done to futureproof the businesses at risk?
Top of the tech
From blockchain to machine learning to augmented reality (AR), new and exciting technologies continue to impact the way businesses operate on a global scale. Yet closer to home, Barclaycard research shows that 78% of UK CIOs are concerned about the need to constantly upskill their tech staff to keep up with the pace of change. As a result, decision makers are investing their time and money in areas such as facilitating better communication between devices and systems, three in ten CIOs (30%) are already piloting or using the Internet of Things (IoT), while a further 56% are planning to implement it within their business over the next five years. In addition, 35% have adopted or are piloting blockchain for increased data security, and 45% are in the process of testing or using artificial intelligence (AI). As key drivers of success for the world of tomorrow, it’s plain to see why technology plays a huge part not only in the evolution of business, but in the changing role of the CIO.
The power to make a difference
While research shows CIOs are championing technology within the workplace, there is more to be done in order to attract new talent – while nurturing the talent that already exists. Keith Little, CIO in Barclays Cards & Payments, said: “Recruiting the best talent is always a priority for business leaders – but as our research shows, CIOs know it’s not enough to simply hire skilled individuals. To keep pace with the rapid technological change, tech leaders must be prepared to continually identify and address the skills gaps within their organisations.”
From making the right hires at the right time to mentorship on the shop floor, based on the Barclaycard research, here are five ways CIOs can empower their teams from within.
1. Knowledge sharing – Upskilling within the workplace is one of the best ways business leaders can encourage knowledge sharing. With in-house expertise that’s readily available among your employees, managers can train existing teams while learning to identify the exact skills gaps needed to be filled thereafter.
2. Mentorship – As a step up from upskilling, in-house mentors are a great way to nurture talent from within with the help of your business’s most experienced employees. Mentorship programmes can benefit both parties, providing long-time employees with an apprentice and the chance to impart valuable knowledge, and budding staff members the chance to shine and progress their careers.
3. Tactical hires – A specific problem requires a tactical solution, so for businesses looking to close the skills gap, tactical hires are a sure-fire way to move ahead. Increase the quality of candidates you wish to hire by taking the time to write a laser-focused job description.
4. Fresh expertise – For businesses less keen to hire a new full-time employee, consultants can complement an existing team by offering expertise precisely where required – often acting as a catalyst for change. Not only is a consultant hands-on, but they can also provide mentorship, a new lease of life, and a level of objectivity not easily attainable from inside a business.
5. Thought leadership – Innovation-hungry CIOs who keep abreast of the latest trends will only benefit the wider the team. By actively sharing insight on professional social channels but also within the workplace itself, CIOs can act as thought leaders not only to employees, but as influential figures within the industry.
With diversity and inclusion a key area of concern for all businesses in 2019, Barclaycard’s research reveals that 64% of CIOs indicate their teams are now from a more diverse range of backgrounds, with seven in ten including they have more women in their teams than they did five years ago. Keith Little added: “The good news is that most CIOs say their team is more diverse than five years ago – suggesting they’re already taking steps to ensure they nurture a wider range of skills.”
As the tech sector continues to expand paired with the ever-evolving role of the CIO, the more fluid and reactive businesses can be to imminent change, the better chances they have of thriving in a new era of technological advancement.