McKinsey says we are already critically short of “data scientists” even as the hype about Big Data takes off. IBM goes even further and says we are short talent in every aspect of what Cognizant calls the SMAC stack (social, mobile, analytics and cloud). Around the world.
If it feels like deja vu all over again, you would be right. In the late 90s, in the run up to Y2K, there were supposed shortages in ERP, testing, COBOL, Assembler skills. And wages and consultant rates rose. In the dot.com boom which continued even after Y2K, hustling became an art form. There were eCommerce, marketplace, Java teams which had to be “hired within 24 hours, or a competing client would get them”
Expect more of that this time around, but let’s be smarter:
a) Most outsourcers do not have the SMAC talent themselves. How many can show resumes in the social space – with Yammer or Radian6 experience? In reverse, how many are positioning their Lotus Notes and collaboration experience as “social”? In mobile, the majority of the million+ apps in the iOS and Android marketplaces did NOT come from the major outsourcers. They came mostly from mom and pop shops. When it comes to analytics, sure they can show they have had some HANA training, but how many of their staff have even rudimentary pattern recognition skills? When it comes to cloud, how many of them have cloud data centers which could compete with Amazon? How many have shared service centers which could compete with NetSuite when it comes to apps management? What really makes them cloud qualified? We need more disciplined sourcing – buy qualified teams, not the brand name. Even better buy smaller qualified teams and more IP and automation to do the job.
b) Most companies are far more outsourced than they were 12-15 years ago. Dangerously so, in many cases. Not many will do what Randy Mott, CIO at GM has announced – move from 90% outsourced to 90% insourced. He is also prepared to do it in big chunks - he has already announced plans to transfer 3,000 staff back from HP. But if companies feel they need to outsource the newer skillsets, they should be at least be looking at bringing some of the more mature skillsets in-house. At the HCL event last week, I heard there is $ 190 billion in “re-bid” IT outsourcing coming up in the next 3 years. Should not internal IT and HR be invited to also “bid”?
c) Insourcing is easier said than done. The basics of recruiting and employee development have deteriorated in most companies. Jason Corsello, who heads strategy at Cornerstone OnDemand, which recently released its own survey results on the talent shortage, summarizes some of the challenges:
- Too much emphasis is spent finding the next “rock star” instead of building the stars themselves
- Companies are doing a terrible job giving employees feedback
- Employees aren’t getting the necessary development and training. Programs today aren’t built for the 21st century leveraging modern technology (mobile, social, etc.)
- Very few employees actually get career development guidance or establish career goals.
The skills shortage will likely vary by staff category and country. If we are not careful though, we better get ready for another round of hustling and employee discontent.
You know how the expression goes: Fool me twice, shame on me.