CIOs need to nurture raw IT talent to power the future economy

Each year, with the publication of A-level results, hundreds of thousands of school leavers embark on a journey that ultimately fuels the talent pool feeding the UK economy.

Some argue that a generation brought up on the internet have different expectations of work than previous generations. But, while the worldwide web was never part of their early education, the people who started their careers in the 1990s have only ever worked in the internet era. It is these people who are now the middle and senior managers in business and government.

There is an opportunity for these managers to think differently about how work should be organised and consider the real value of staff and how to motivate them, in a bid to help their organisation become the next Facebook or Google.

Empires are not created overnight; revolution is never instant. But there is a groundswell, a shift in public opinion. The trusted brands of the past look prehistoric compared with the likes of Amazon or Apple.

Two decades after the 30-year-old Jeff Bezos established Amazon, a new generation of business leaders are realising the tools of the internet era – social, cloud, analytics and mobile – offer the potential to rewrite business rules. In this respect, IT can make a difference. Amazon digitised book selling in 1995; today digitisation is set to propel old-school business ideas into the internet era.

How often has IT been greeted by the remark: “I didn’t know it could do that?” More often than not, users complain the application does not do something they want. Today’s school leavers instinctively know what “right” feels like from an application perspective.

Rather than hire to fulfil a current business need, there is a case for CIOs to nurture the skills their organisations will need in the future through job placements, apprenticeships and graduate recruitment programmes. In doing so, the CIO can build an IT talent pool to inform and support senior management on the journey to digitisation.