Elusive Technology Skills — and Business Leadership

6 Min Read
Fifty-two percent of companies have plans to transform their organization's technology within two to three years. Who will be responsible?

Fifty-two percent of companies have plans to transform their organization’s technology within two to three years. Who will be responsible?

Just about everyone has converted to cloud faith in the wake of turbulent times over the past two years. 92% now report that they invest in cloud services. Compare that to 59% just a year ago, according to a survey of 2,120 executives by Harvey Nash Group conducted in collaboration and CIONET. They reported that most companies plan to increase their technology investments (61%) and to hire more people (60%) to achieve “record levels.”


Technology platforms are breaking down hierarchies that have hindered productivity for decades. Technology leaders need to be able to manage things and have seats at the table, whether on boards or on executive committees.

The report’s authors stated that digital leadership is becoming more distributed and ego-less, with the role shifting to the person most positioned to make the decisions. If they want to be agents of change, digital leaders must embrace the new world of multiple roles.

Nearly eight out of ten companies have appointed chief digital officers to their boards or executive committees. This is to assist with their digital transformation. To oversee these efforts, 77% of the companies have increased the number of chief technology officers. About 65% of these companies have chief information officers.

According to the report’s authors, CIOs have historically been the gateway to digitization but they no longer hold a monopoly. Other leaders have begun to share this responsibility. Digital leaders who create an environment that is agile and driven by data insights are the most valuable.

Technology Age

No matter what title the digital leader may hold, they must act quickly to remove any impediments that are preventing their business from moving into the digital age.

The most difficult area is technical skills. A shortage of talent means that more than two-thirds of executives (69%) are unable to keep up with the pace of change.

The most desired tech skill is cybersecurity (43%), up 11% over the past 12 months. DevOps (39%) and big data/analytics (38%) are also in high demand. Four out of ten companies are facing shortages in developers.

How can digital leaders address the shortage of skills? Tech teams might need to expand their skill sets.

Over half (51%) of respondents plan to cross-train employees in other areas of their company. A preferred option is the use of niche consultancies to fill in gaps in expertise. This was also mentioned by 45%. Another 44% plan to increase their employee hiring. Nearly 40% plan to increase their outsourced expertise.

However, with so many solutions available now that are cloud-based or packaged in commercial off-the-shelf products, it raises the question of what future outsourcing options will exist. Another 35% plan to increase the number of contract employees.

The Next Age

Building and maintaining a stable workforce is becoming more difficult in the face of the “Great Resignation.”

Eighty percent of executives say that this mindset shift makes it more difficult to retain employees. Only four percent admit that they are able to keep employees on board for a longer period of time.

However, not enough is being done to make the environment more attractive to employees. Twenty-nine percent of companies have not adapted their environment to accommodate more flexible and hybrid arrangements.

The survey shows that there have been promising increases in diversity. The survey found that 21% of digital leaders identified themselves as female this year, compared to 13% in 2020. Women now comprise 28% of the tech team. Six out of 10 respondents think their approach to diversity is improving the quality and quantity of their employees. They also note that creating the right culture is more important than mandating shortlists and quotas.

Organizations today are loose associations of contract, remote, and on-site workers. Workers are linked by technology. They work together as needed to accomplish tasks.


Although the media keeps harping on the fact that companies cannot find enough workers, the reality is different.

That’s because while untrained workers are becoming more ambitious and assertive they are also becoming less attractive to employers. What employers really want, really need, are skilled, trained, workers. Workers who are willing and able to tackle the ever-changing challenges of employment in the post-pandemic age.

Often overlooked or scorned by otherwise eligible employees is vocational training. Learning how to cut meat. How to fix a car. Tighten a leaky faucet. And so forth. Many states offer vocational courses for free. Or they offer partial to complete tuition reimbursement after successful completion of a certification course.

Small business owners should always be on the lookout for those who have been trained in the vocational system. These can become the backbone of your small business.

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Becca Williams is a writer, editor, and small business owner. She writes a column for Smallbiztechnology.com and many more major media outlets.