IT Upskilling in APAC: How Learning & Development Teams Can Become Strategic Partners to the Business
The much publicized global IT skills shortage is not just hype; it is a very real issue. According to recent research, 78% of managers and 80% of IT professionals acknowledge this gap in IT. Additionally, only a third believes their enterprise has the skills in-house to succeed.
This gap may explain why I typically see IT purchasing decisions made in a certain way across most of the markets I cover in Asia Pacific. Most often, a technology platform is chosen and then investments are made in upskilling people in the specific technical skills required – presumably to ensure that the gap in the skills the business requires are filled.
On its surface, this approach makes sense given many IT budgets have been tight – the latest Gartner figures showing that IT spend is down globally by around 5%. However, I think much could be gained by investing in acquiring strategic skills around new technologies prior to making purchasing decisions, thus ensuring decisions that are better informed, look beyond short-term tactical requirements, and support the wider long-term strategy of the business. And with the pace of change and investment in this sector set to increase, it’s particularly vital.
There are some great global examples of companies doing this well. We can learn a lot from organizations like Progress Energy. The EMC Education Services team is working with them to develop and deliver a broad-based training program for their IT experts so they’re better equipped to develop and validate skills required to plan, deploy, manage, and leverage their information infrastructure. Tony Kempton, a capacity planner at Progress Energy explains that this upfront investment in upskilling helps the company “deploy new systems more quickly and develop more solid strategies for the future”.
To replicate these successes, there must be water-tight communication between Learning & Development (L&D) teams – who often take the lead on these training programs – and IT. Doing so ensures they’re maximizing the training investments and resources to close the appropriate gaps in the team’s knowledge, and to plan exactly in areas where the organization is focused.
Rather than using traditional Individual Development Plans, Organizational Development Plans should be favored to ensure everyone is moving in the right direction. Additionally, using a blended learning approach enables individuals to learn in ways that best works for them without compromising their day-to-day job.
In essence, it’s all about collaboration, conversation (with senior-IT decision makers and strategy setters), and consideration (of both the business’ and individual’s needs). When done right, it enables both L&D and IT teams to become trusted, innovative advisers to the business.