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Dinko Eror

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Disruption Day - the Skills Revolution By @DinkoEror | @CloudExpo #Cloud

How do you get your technologists to become agile developers instead of an IT maintenance crew?

In my last post I discussed where to start when it comes to addressing the software-driven enterprise challenge head on as we see each industry's "disruption day" draw closer. In my view, perhaps the biggest challenge for the established players of the day - in the industrial revolution it was the cottage industries, today it is the incumbents in virtually every market - is one of change management, and the skills required in the new world order.

If you were a 19th century weaver, you were an expert at weaving. You didn't know anything about negotiating bulk discounts on wool, you didn't know how to build industrial scale looms, you didn't know how to automate the production process, and you weren't equipped to produce or deliver orders of a certain magnitude. How do you equip your ‘weavers' with these skills today?

How do you get your technologists to become agile developers instead of an IT maintenance crew?

There are three routes, in my view, to delivering this.

  1. Change management & retraining. This is exactly as it sounds. Building in a programme of change that not only changes the architecture but retrains key staff in the skills and capabilities they need in the new world order; this might mean retraining siloed technical experts (for example, storage or network managers) as converged infrastructure professionals, or it might be more dramatic. A small but significant percentage of the capabilities you'll need in your next-generation software-defined business will draw on these people.
  2. Recruiting a fresh skill set. In many cases, however, you will simply lack the talent you need for the kind of software development you'll want to do. This will mean going to the market - and this can be very challenging for businesses. After all, if your reputation is as a weaver - those are the people that will be drawn to you. Agile developers would rather work for the firms famous for agile development, the Googles or Facebooks, of this world. Some organisations have fought the preconceptions - technology is so crucial to fashion retailer Net-a-Porter that it has an IT team that makes up more than 10% of it's global workforce, over 300 people. But few can achieve this cut-through.
  3. Getting external support: For the rest, it's understanding the need to call for help. Consultancies with experience in change management, upskilling internal teams, facilitating the on-boarding of new staff and so on are vital in helping manage a transition, a corporate transformation, of this scale. A good number of the conversations we have centre on this change management and skills issue.

In reality, businesses will need to do a bit of all three, and consultants can help support the first two challenges.

Next week I will continue my business disruption content series with a summary of the key issues I think are central to unlocking a software-driven enterprise from the chrysalis of historical business models.

More Stories By Dinko Eror

Dinko Eror is Vice President of EMC Global Services for the EMEA region. He is responsible for EMC’s consulting & technology professional services, and its award-winning customer support organizations, and for helping clients drive business value through IT innovation. Dinko is passionate about how technology is disrupting and revolutionizing business models – particularly through the enabling power of the software-defined enterprise.