The question of digital and technology talent is a hot topic in the corporate world. Large companies are projected to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in digital transformation efforts over the next five years.
These efforts will require sophisticated knowledge and capabilities. As a result, the demand for quality talent is soon expected to outstrip supply by a significant margin.
So, what can help give businesses an edge in the anticipated competition for scarce digital talent? According to a recent article from McKinsey, the first step is for companies to determine exactly what their needs are when it comes to digital capabilities.
While precise needs will vary depending on market and geography, many needs are common to all successful digital businesses. These include IT systems that can handle huge volumes of data, that have the flexibility to interact with external platforms and technologies, and that are focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences.
In order to best support these and other core needs, McKinsey analysts suggest that companies prioritize the following roles when scouting for digital talent:
“Experience Designers” and Engineers
The customer experience is the main driver of most digital business activity today. This means that companies need to invest in the right tech talent to deliver the best possible experience.
The position of experience designer encompasses a number of different functions, including leveraging customer research to produce actionable insights and running real-time test-and-learn programs. However, broadly speaking, their main role is to serve as customer advocates, drawing on ethnographic research and utilizing their collaborative skills to solve problems with customer experience and design and improve the customer journey.
Experience designers are supported in this mission by front-end and mobile engineers, who use their expertise in building high-performing, scalable, and sleek user interfaces to rapidly translate designs and digital experiences into effective working software.
Scrum Masters and Agility Coaches
To maximize the flexibility and responsiveness that today’s customers demand, more and more companies are using agile development strategies. When these strategies are employed, software development takes place over a number of rapid, iterative cycles.
This approach is quite different from previously-employed conventional methods such as traditional sequential development. As a result, it’s critical for companies to have proper support in the form of scrum masters and agility coaches.
Scrum masters are responsible for managing teams during the development process. This requires both strong leadership and enabling skills as well as a high level of technological expertise.
Agility coaches are focused on the bigger picture, helping to create and roll out business-wide plans for agile processes. They also track key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics across the broader organization.
Product owners are in charge of particular digital products within a company. As such, they have very high-level responsibilities. These responsibilities include defining the product’s vision, making high-value business decisions, and tracking product progress through an intense focus on KPIs.
Like CEOs, product owners work closely and regularly with a wide variety of individuals in other roles, including engineers, developers, experience designers, and other key business stakeholders. As a result, a strong sense of vision and the ability to inspire people towards that vision are important qualities for the role.
Companies navigating today’s complex and rapidly-evolving technological landscape need the services of passionate learners who are dedicated to keeping up with changing technologies and techniques. Enter the full-stack architect.
These individuals are hands-on developers who are familiar with all technology components and “stacks” of a large-scale software system. These include everything from web and mobile user interfaces to back-end databases.
Typically, these individuals have at least eight to 10 years of software engineering experience. Full-stack engineers have the knowledge and expertise to link architectural vision with business vision, and to drive business value as well as technical excellence.
Next-Generation Machine Learning Engineers
Companies are increasingly making use of machine learning to collect and rationalize huge volumes of customer data. As a result, a new kind of software engineer has evolved. This individual is a next-generation breed with expertise in data use, scalable computing environments, algorithm refinement and application, and distributed computing techniques.
These individuals are highly focused on technical details and solutions. However, the most effective machine learning engineers also understand broader business objectives. They serve as “thought partners” for companies on the journey from problem to insight to continuously evolving solutions.
Cloud computing and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) models have completely changed how infrastructure resources are managed. DevOps engineers function at the intersection of development and operations.
These are the workers who enable companies to build and take advantage of new technological advancements. Generally, these individuals are software engineers who want to bring a high lever of craftsmanship to IT infrastructure and operations.
DevOps engineers provide a vital link between technology and business goals. They create the tools and automations that allow development teams to access critical infrastructure resources on-demand and independently with just a click of a button.