The race is on – and a trusted services partner can help you win

By Caroline Miscio

Advances in technology are driving wholesale digital reinvention, and CIOs who aspire to being in pole position need to spend much less time on the once traditional roles of maintenance and day-to-day management. Instead, their remit is to champion innovation and transformation at board level. But they can’t do it alone.

CIOs are increasingly finding that the rapid advancement of technology makes it extremely difficult to keep workforce skills current and relevant. 

Several studies published in the past year or so have highlighted concerns over skills gaps. Research from the IBM Institute for Business Value found that more than half of industry executives cited finding appropriately skilled workers to be their greatest skills-related challenge. Nearly 70 percent were concerned that advances in industry-specific technology would have a further impact on demand for skills over the next five years.

Some of these concerns speak to long-term systemic issues with educational standards and the adaptability of corporate training programmes, so there’s only so much a CIO can do beyond keeping the pressure on for change.

In the meantime though, businesses still need to evaluate new and emerging technologies like blockchain and AI to understand how they can deliver value and earn them competitive advantage.  And with skills in short supply, time-critical projects can stall or fail to get out of the blocks altogether. 

For a CIO facing this kind of pressure, it’s increasingly unrealistic to be able to access all of the necessary skills and tools within their own organisation. Every reason, then, to complement and enrich their teams with external experts, especially in areas like cloud migration planning or process automation where they may only need help for a fixed period of time.

One solution is to engage with a technology services partner who can wrap their arms around a problem, work with clients to identify practical ways forward and provide the necessary skills to make measurable progress within an agreed timeframe. What, then, should a CIO look for in such a partner?

  1. Industry expertise:  many transformational challenges are common to all sectors, but if there are specific regulatory issues to consider, then it makes sense to work alongside a partner who understands these drivers.
  2. It’s not just about additional capacity: partners should bring something new to the table, particularly tried-and-tested tools or methodologies that don’t exist in-house, to deliver better results and more quickly.
  3. Strong relationships:  a good partner will have expertise across many leading technology vendors to be able to offer the best solution for the task, not the default option from a single vendor’s portfolio.
  4. Evidence: a partner should have a robust track record of delivering measurable outcomes.
  5. Not all problems are created equal: a partner should be able to demonstrate experience and success in projects of all sizes and at all levels of complexity.

The final thing to remember is that engaging with a new services partner doesn’t necessarily mean a multi-year commitment. A first engagement can be practical and tactical, time-boxed and judged against specific success criteria. It’s also a great way to test the cultural fit with a new partner. And, if successful, that first project can introduce the new energy that’s exactly what’s needed to take the relationship – and your digital transformation – forward.

To discuss how expertise from IBM Services could help accelerate your digital transformation, schedule an initial consultation via our dedicated portal.


And read more about investing in the right talent in our recent CIO Study - download your free copy of More than meets the “I” here.