Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, famously said “There is nothing permanent except change” and nowhere is this better exemplified than the evolution of the IT function.
Once upon a time (not too long ago) the term “IT” was used within organisations to refer to the group of ubiquitous, bespectacled, tech-support providing gentlemen who dealt solely with office computer hardware malfunctioning or with internet connectivity issues.
Fast forward to present day- the thinking towards IT has undergone an overhaul. Some organisations have turned their IT department into a standalone BU in itself with fixed business goals and targets, and at the very least the IT department is now recognised as an essential business partnering function that cuts across all verticals.
And with good reason, in today’s tech focused world the IT function is an indispensable part of businesses and ensuring that various background processes run seamlessly – communication, inventory management, data management, customer relationship management and management information systems are just a few examples of many more. And with increasing responsibility for IT there has been a corresponding need for skilled and talented leadership hiring to lead the teams. Newer roles such as CTO, CIO, product managers are slowly becoming commonplace and, in turn, bringing in their own set of related challenges.
The biggest issue over the last few years has been finding talent. Overall industrial growth and entry of new funds within the private equity sector has led to a headcount increase across organisations, which in turn have led to an increase in demand for senior level hiring. In fact according to reports by Mercer and Mettl most companies plan to increase their hiring budget in 2019 by almost 34 per cent as compared to 2018, in order to be better able to attract talent from a limited pool.
This supply-demand mismatch can be attributed to the rise of e-commerce and fintech businesses as well as renewed focus of the Government on their programs such as ‘Make in India’. Infra based projects have also increased opportunities for senior IT talent apart from hiring from traditional employers like software and banking companies. Additionally 2017 and 2018 witnessed highest levels of funding for startups and expansion of e-commerce (Walmart-Flipkart deal and the subsequent Amazon response), leading companies to seek out leadership roles to helm their organisations. Many search firms reported receiving 40-100 per cent increase in leadership mandates in 2018 as compared to 2017 and the trend show no signs of slowing down.
Another issue with finding the right talent is the diverse role requirements. Since Indian companies, including startups, are professionalising their businesses the tech leadership is expected to have same skills like agility, flexibility, a strategic and commercial mindset and mentorship qualities- same as their non IT counterparts while at the same time have relevant hands on experience with new age tech.
With all these constraints in place , over the next few months companies are expected to seek out Indian professional returning from abroad or even recruiting foreign professionals with the required skill-set. Additionally all potential recruits will be expected well versed with most, if not all, of the following growing spheres- AI, IoT, robotics, cybersecurity and automation.
Another expected trend is the use of technology in hiring. Since newer methods are already being used in lower level hiring, it is inevitable that they will find their way into IT leadership hiring as well.
Some of the potential game changers are:
- Social media: Accessibility and connectedness of professionals on online networks like Facebook and LinkedIn makes talent easily findable and levels the playing field between large and small corporations)
- Big data analytics: Talent acquisition is increasingly relying on analysing huge amounts of available data to fine tune requirements and set their expectations from potential candidates. This leads to better chances of a perfect ‘job fit’ while simultaneously decreasing time and money spent in searching for the right candidate
- Machine Learning: Adaptive algorithms are being used to scan hundreds of potential candidates and match them with the suitable job, all the while fine-tuning the process via real-time learning.
To sum up, IT leadership is undergoing vast changes and it is expected to evolve further alongside technological advancements. But, regardless of the changes the basic facet of IT leadership will always remain constant- to be a leader who understands the needs of tomorrow’s world.