How e-skills gap stymies business

There is currently a 31% staff shortfall in E-business. An analyst firm offers some advice on filling the gaps

There is currently a 31% staff shortfall in E-business. An analyst firm offers some advice on filling the gaps

The skills shortage is hitting e-business hard. E-business departments have a 31% staff shortfall, while 41% of projects are stalled because of a shortage of key people.

These are just some of the findings of a new study, Pumping up Internal E-business Talent, by analyst group Forrester Research, which talked to 50 key e-business executives of US-based multinationals.

The lessons Forrester gleaned from across the Atlantic are certain to apply in the UK.

The organisation found an average project delay of three months, with 20% of respondents reporting delays of up to six months and 9% of up to a year.

The most important jobs are, not surprisingly, the hardest to fill.

"Interviewees highlight strategists and technologists as the most essential e-business positions in their organisations. But these jobs are hardest to fill," said Forrester.

These shortages are forcing organisations to look at internal staff development to fill the gap, but Forrester said methods for matching employees to e-business jobs are crude.

Forrester found, "Companies plan on nearly doubling e-business training budgets," and endorsed a strategy of building up e-skills internally.

"External recruiting is a zero-sum game," said the analysts, adding that, "Outsourcing is no silver bullet."

However, it warned, "the majority of firms lack formal processes for identifying e-business talent."

It suggests a four-pronged strategy to identify and develop e-business talent. First identify behavioural types who can be trained in e-business, regardless of what department they originate from.

These employees should be immersed in an intensive learning environment in a centralised e-commerce group.

This should be buttressed by encouraging collaboration across different lines of business and by "over communicating with employees". This allows managers and staff to identify possible new career paths.

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