Changing Capabilities and Capacities: Key Technology Influences in the Transformation of IT Talent Requirements in the 21st Century

Changing Capabilities and Capacities: Key Technology Influences in the Transformation of IT Talent Requirements in the 21st Century

Benn Konsynski (Emory University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-535-3.ch002


Increasingly, the management of human capital management emerges as a key differentiator in the competitive marketplace. The talent pool and inventory of capabilities is a critical source of competitive differentiation, and also a key to accomplishing many of the strategic objectives essential for success of the competitive enterprise in the 21st century. Product and service innovation and process and practice improvement are essential in the modern market.
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If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top ... that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contriving. – Buckminster Fuller



When asked to present some observations related to challenges faced by the ever-changing IT talent role, I thought first to tell some anecdotes of recent cases in enterprise and market transformation. Rather, I want to raise the horizon to the emerging environment. Here I offer some macro trends that suggest some direction for evolution of the attention and consideration of the changing pool of IT talent and HR responsibilities.

Serious assessment of operational and organizational design of the IT organization needs to be made by a new kind of leadership. It is doubtful that piecemeal fixes, small “band-aids”, or incremental solutions will suffice. Rather serious rethinking of how the IT organization might operate. There is a realization that the global environment in which the IT organization operates is radically changing and so, too, might serious thought be necessary to re-align the functions of the IT organization to address this challenging environment.

Rather than offer a verbose narrative of examination of a leading employment of information technologies talent, I will offer a spectrum of thoughts on trends that influence the management of the human capital in the IT organization. The objective is to identify key questions that the IT HR managers needs to ask themselves related to their positioning and leverage of the talent pool. My horizon is the five to ten year window. The items relate to trends and considerations that I expect will be important to the effective talent managers in the contemporary enterprise.

The themes discussed below represent a broad spectrum of issues and questions that are interconnected factors that will influence the evolving role of the human resource manager. The list is not intended to be comprehensive, merely representative.

From Development to Integration

The most dramatic trend is a shifting in the skill sets in the portfolio needed by the effective IT organization. With the architecture and infrastructure changes taking place in the enterprise and the market, the skill set in the portfolio of IT services evolves from mainly development to mainly integration. The skill mix has been there all the time; it is merely the emphasis that is changing. Service orientation, outsourcing, syndication and cloud migration speak to the need for agile provisioning of services – with a diminishing emphasis on development.

The budget and resource management shifts from a CapEx focus to one of OpEx. Prioritization of feature-set provisioning and managing an extended pool of leveraged talent (much of it on-demand) are a growing element in the management practice in the IT organization.

Are my talent rosters adequate for my shifting attention from capital oriented initiatives to those that are more operationally oriented? Do I need to adjust the talent pool, or change the incentives systems to acknowledge these changes in focus?

The Incredible Shrinking Legacy Environment

Few would doubt the value and service of the legacy environments that well served the enterprise in the waning days of the 20th century. The challenge to many an enterprise is that legacy systems are seldom ready for the facile and mobile environments emerging in the early days of the 21st century. The skill sets required in development and maintenance of the legacy environments of ERP, CRM and other systems differs from those needed beyond the API extensions and “bolt-on” elements that characterize the traditional monolithic systems environments of the 20th century. New skills for new architectures that more heavily involve Web services, SaaS and cloud infrastructures.

How shall we balance the skill portfolio needed to maintain the essential legacy environments in the architecture migration toward cloud–like environments that are highly syndicated and service oriented?

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