Digital Skills and The Widening Talent Gap

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The digital talent gap report offers some well thought-out ideas around attract, develop, and retain. There are five points that make a difference

The Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute (DTI) and LinkedIn published a new report looking at the digital talent gap: The Digital Talent Gap—Are companies doing enough? I thought it was a useful review of what is happening in the market, and as I read it, I recognized some of the issues we face, and I see in other organizations.

Let’s start with how digital has changed the way the world thinks about skills and organization structure:

  • First, the challenge of digital skills. In the past, technology skills were typically aligned with a major vendor, they defined progression, certification, and competency. Think about CCNP, IBM, SAP, or any of the other big vendors and you see something like this. However, digital technical skills are fragmented across many vendors, they are interrelated, and they change constantly; just look at the Apache Foundation project list as an example of this trend, and the 60 million Google results you get when you search. Alongside these technical skills is the need for methods like Agile or Scrum, and the business skills to be able to represent the product development effectively.
  • These Agile- and Scrum-based projects, which digital works best in, have already transformed the way we think about organization structure. Traditionally, you might sit in a functional hierarchy, like operations or finance, which is defined by your business process and supported with a tool such as SAP. Digital customer experience breaks down these functional silos, and the teams that build these customer experiences come from many functions. This trend to teams was a big learning from a recent special interest group I was involved with through EFMD. Whether Cisco transforming to an organization of teams and teams of teams, or WLGore and their heritage as a team-based organization, we all agreed that the kind of adaptive talent we need to mobilize is only possible through teams.

So how do we respond? The digital talent gap report offers some well thought-out ideas around attract, develop, and retain. From my experience, I see five points that make a difference:

  1. Know what “digital skills” means for you as an organization.

We have built an analytical tool to review the skills in demand from staffing requests. We know what we need so we can at least point the way.

  1. Make skill acquisition graphical and part of a journey of self-discovery.

I have been influenced by my time with Dom Murphy from Geek Talent who showed me a great tool to visualize skills, like a DNA chart. Also, Dave Maclean of, which gives you a journey to choose how you develop. Both ideas let you visualize and exercise the choice of where you are going. It looks like the death of the traditional HR career path, by the way.

  1. Equip your people to jump in—where will they land once skilled, are they equipped in the network?

Once skilled, can your digital people find a way to exercise their skill? Are you fixed in the hierarchy, or available for an assignment to a team? We use a tool from RetainInternational to help us know what people are doing and deploy them to their skill. But it isn’t just hard skills, a new piece of research from Career Innovation shows how important your network is. Are you equipping your people to navigate with their new skills?

  1. Recognize and capture the fact that new ways of learning are already underway.

Although the DTI report highlights concerns about organization training, the truth is most people with digital ambition personally own their training and invest outside the organization, as also pointed out in the report. Do you make it possible for them to record that in your systems? Is the learning management system of any value to your people or you if no one updates it?

  1. Know you are a custodian of a person for a short period of time—whether you are an organization of teams and assignments or not, your people will treat you like one. They will leave when the next task is boring or doesn’t build on the skills they want.

Do you have a total talent management plan, looking at reskilling your own people and the market—hires and freelancers—assuming you will need them to replace expected attrition?

So yes, there is a gap, but there always are gaps in talent when things are new. Getting on and operationally managing the impact is where the fun is.

As the Global People Supply Chain Officer for Capgemini, I am responsible for getting the right people on the right project across the Group. Want to know more about me or my work? Follow me on LinkedIn.

Listen to the podcast as I share more insights on this topic with Frank Wammes, CTO, Continental Europe.

Read Capgemini’s and LinkedIn’s joint research report on the Digital Talent Gap:

Digital Talent Gap

The Digital Talent Gap—Are Companies Doing Enough?

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