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How CIOs Can Navigate Talent Needs Amid Uncertainty

How CIOs Can Navigate Talent Needs Amid Uncertainty

Amid financial uncertainty, a rocky global economy, and a wave of layoffs in the tech industry, securing and maintaining talent continues to be top of mind – and a big challenge – for CIOs in the US. From securing talent to launch and complete projects to maintaining current productivity for projects already in the works, talent is demanding more. At the same time, CIOs have fewer resources and reduced budgets to make it all work.

But there is some good news. The two biggest concerns are finding talent that can be onboarded quickly and flexibility in response to the need to scale up or down based on ever-changing revenue and business objectives. And in this environment, CIOs and IT departments are leaning into creative workarounds and reliable resources that can provide quick talent solutions.

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In-House Talent vs. Access to Talent

When asked about the economic outlook, our 2022 Q4 CIO Outlook: Economic Challenges and Outsourcing report revealed that almost 9 in 10 (87%) CIOs said they are concerned about an upcoming economic slowdown impacting their company and team. Over three quarters (78%) anticipate budget reductions through the end of 2023. Therefore, the hiring budget for some CIOs may be quite limited – or, as the theme of the past few years continues, uncertain.

So when CIOs are tasked with exploring new technologies or staffing for product development, they should determine if the skills needed must be in-house or if the department simply needs fast access to in-demand skills. In other words, does the department need to hire part or full-time talent to support the goals, or could the same results be achieved using an agency or a supplemental team?

If the required talent really does need to be in-house, then CIOs will have to determine if they can afford to hire the new talent.

What skills are needed?

Are these roles in high demand? And what are the requested salaries?

CIOs must also forecast if there will be a consistent stream of work for the newly hired talent to ensure the value of the investment.

An outside agency can be a solution for product development or other tech-based functions. However, not all tech-related projects require an entire team, and agencies can get pricey depending on the scope and scale of the project.

Another strategy is to hire less skilled talent for newer roles and focus on talent development. For example, if a role requires a niche skill set that can be taught over a short period of time by existing employees, then it may be worth it to hire someone at a lower salary and skill level with the plan to help them develop their skills and lead them down a worthwhile career path. While this may sound like a win-win, it will only be viable if the company has the existing talent to serve as a resource and if there isn’t an urgent time constraint on completing the work.

Outsourced Tech Talent

Innovations that leverage advanced technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), are prompting companies to move quicker on their digital acceleration initiatives.

For example, the rise of ChatGPT is prompting companies to evaluate their processes to determine how a writing and content-generating platform can support their business objectives.

Can this increase the speed of operations?

How will these new platforms support current IT functions?

CIOs are seeking ways to quickly hire skilled talent that can navigate the new technologies while carefully balancing their budget and without knowing exactly what the next 11 months will look like. So while the waves of tech layoffs from large companies leave many skilled tech workers jobless, there are still just as many tech-related job openings showing that making the match isn’t always easy.

For all of the reasons mentioned – budget cuts, economic uncertainty, the need to scale quickly – it’s clear why the aforementioned Q4 2022 US-based CIO survey revealed that more than 4 in 5 (86%) CIOs reported that it’s likely they will outsource tech-related or other functions within their company’s technology department within the next six months. This means that both jobless tech professionals and companies seeking resources have new opportunities to connect talent with new opportunities.

In fact, staff augmentation is quickly changing the game, and it is predicted that the pool of freelance talent will reach an all-time high in the coming years. Staff augmentation solutions provide highly skilled talent that can be onboarded quickly and will get to work without needing all of the support of a full-time hire (think benefits, relocation bonuses, and more). Even better, the companies offering this service work with pre-screened and vetted talent, and they specialize in finding the right individual or team to fill the talent gap.

By providing on-demand talent and offering the flexibility for companies to scale up quickly – and to scale back without initiating layoffs for full-time employees – outsourcing processes will become smoother, and the ability to pair companies with the right talent and teams will only improve.

Wait It Out

Perhaps launching and developing new projects or exploring emerging technologies isn’t urgent. While the industry is walking on eggshells and balking at investments waiting for the fed to announce interest rate changes, it may be a good time to take a quick breath and reprioritize certain initiatives. Leaning into marketing and advertising automation while others are scaling back could be a worthwhile investment, and pushing new product launches out a quarter could be the right tradeoff. But as always, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and ensure that projects with momentum don’t fall flat and lose the excitement and energy behind the team that will propel it forward.

In the face of economic uncertainty, one thing is certain: there are myriad resources to develop a solid strategic plan that offers flexibility and will fulfill your technology and talent needs. Even without a solid economic outlook on the global economy, it still makes sense to determine how to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other innovative advancements to remain competitive. And maybe, you just might need to augment your team – through an agency or outsourced talent – or wait it out a bit. But whatever you choose to do, just don’t give up.

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