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How can CIOs remain innovative to ensure they retain their top technical talent?

How can CIOs remain innovative to ensure they retain their top technical talent?

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CIOs are spending more time on innovation, with three-quarters stating they have increased innovation efforts, according to the 2021 Global CIO Survey from Logicalis, a global provider of IT solutions. 

The study, which questions 1,000 CIOs from around the world, finds that despite a strong focus on innovation, just 27% of CIOs describe innovation as part of their company culture.  

 The research also reveals that 21% of respondents admit that innovation is confined to specific areas and departments. A further 34% of CIO respondents also say that innovation consists of large-scale projects driven by dedicated teams. The results suggest a lack of innovation embedded in company culture and organizational willingness to evolve and adopt modern technologies.  

The hesitancy to expand innovation across the business and encourage new ideas is impacting businesses’ ability to keep up with the wider market and competitors. Businesses must emphasize a culture of innovation or risk not supporting changing customer demands and losing valuable employees as the XYZ generation workforce demands digitally focused working practices that match their expectations for user experience. 

 Nearly 80% of survey respondents believe their organization is already falling behind competitors because of the pace of changing processes. Particularly, CIOs state they are struggling to keep up in increasing efficiencies (38%), streamlining workflows (37%) and enhancing services (36%). 

 Expanding an innovative culture across a disseminated workforce is harder than scaling to employees working under one roof. Robust, digital communication solutions enable a hybrid workforce to connect remotely to develop an innovative culture. An updated approach to innovation and company-wide collaboration will enable businesses to improve productivity and gain a competitive edge.   

“Businesses don’t have to approach innovation with an ‘all-in’ strategy,” said Toby Alcock, CTO of Logicalis. “It can start with optimizing operational processes such as empowering employees to build their own workflows or automating a process that was previously manual. The key to success is building an innovative culture where employees can surface and test new ideas quickly and providing the time, tools and processes for them to do so.  

“By doing this, employees will produce groundbreaking ideas and solutions and in turn, will feel satisfied within their roles and employee turnover will decrease. Without taking these measures, businesses risk losing top talent to competitors that are more advanced.” 

Richard Yezid Ramirez Celis, Internal IT Manager, Sonda Colombia

Richard Yezid Ramirez Celis, Internal IT Manager, Sonda Colombia

In my 12 years of experience at Sonda, I have realized that Colombian talents are highly sought-after due to their resilience and ability to work. We also have to consider the search for talent – which we are part of – where international companies can bring local talent. For this reason, for IT sectors to mitigate these situations, it is very important to pay attention to the needs of the new generations.

For example, Millennials are a generation that wants to achieve ambitious projects very fast, so to keep these young developers happy, they must be motivated with insights through training, that is, keep them competitive and prepared. However, this does not work if they are not kept salary motivated at the same time.

A key aspect to understand is that the new young talents in technology are the ones who choose where they work, because thanks to the scarcity of profiles with their skills for the IT sectors, they may be receiving four or five monthly offers.

In addition, these work offers are not only from companies in their country but from companies worldwide. So, they are allowed to work remotely and often do not have an exclusive contract. This issue is another aspect to consider because many of these young people may prefer employment contracts that do not imply exclusivity then they could make more money. However, they can also analyze the factors influenced by the work environment and the salary.

Hybrid work has also provided more motivation for technical talent to stay in companies because these forms of labor flexibility are something that they enjoy very much. In turn, the work environment is also fundamental to keeping teams happy, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, since we all want to have opportunities to socialize and share in an enjoyable and different way. Likewise, benefits and recognition plans for employees are noteworthy, both ‘in kind’ and in the work environment.

Finally, in order to innovate, it is essential to change leadership or learn how to really be a leader. Previously, what was applied was a culture of fearing the boss, which led employees to fulfill tasks but that no longer works. That is because it does not generate well-being or a good working environment. It is vital that leaders genuinely care about work teams and recognize each employee.

Marcelo Mendes, Chief Business Development Officer LATAM, Keyrus

Marcelo Mendes, Chief Business Development Officer LATAM, Keyrus

With the current global shortage of labor in the ICT sector, even more so when it comes to talent, this issue is increasingly critical and, without a doubt, one of the biggest current challenges for companies. After all, without this qualified technical workforce is a surefire failure to promote the implementation of current disruptive technologies (Cloud, AI, Blockchain, Metaverse) to maintain business competitiveness.

However, there are undoubtedly some ways to search for a higher retention rate for technical talent. Yes, I said search because guaranteeing retention, in the current context of scarcity, has become practically impossible.

Here are some suggestions, which are the result of careful observations over the years:

  • Technical talents are curious and like to keep constantly learning, evolving and developing. So, the company needs to create a continuous training platform/program for the team. Technical talent needs to be sure that they will always have at their disposal a dynamic and program-specific environment where they will have ample access to continuous development.

Flexibility is even more important after the COVID-19 pandemic considering that this type of talent tends to prefer working remotely or at least in a hybrid model, where they have the chance of working part-time remotely and part-time in the office. The flexibility in working hours is also usually highly valued by these professionals.

  • The possibility of job and activity rotation is also important because technical talents like to work on different projects and initiatives and do not like repetitive activities. Creating a dynamic environment becomes essential to keep these talents motivated.

I finish with a thought about the necessity for an attractive financial package, even more so in the current competitive environment described. I am sure that this is not the most important thing and not what convinces these talents to stay at a company because they give great value to the aspects above and have the need to identify with the values and goals to commit to a long-term journey.

Diego Felipe Rojas, CIO, Digital Ware

Diego Felipe Rojas, CIO, Digital Ware

The ability to innovate has become one of the most important axes for companies worldwide to meet the challenges of the markets. This capacity for innovation is achieved mainly with processes and resources but, above all, with human talent.

To retain human talent through innovation, work teams must be encouraged to detect problems, then they can develop creative solutions that will solve the problem and obtain satisfaction for themselves. It is done using their creativity and experience without being bound to classical schemes in which critical paths are determined.

According to the Oslo Manual (2005), process innovation related to implementing new methods that use techniques or software, is the most suitable to be incorporated into the corporate culture because it is related to information technologies.

When detecting a problem in the company, the team must be oriented to find a creative solution, but they cannot neglect using a method that facilitates innovative achievement. Otherwise, the innovation can be diluted over time and not get results.

As the culture of innovation is being incorporated, it is of great importance to encourage collaboration using digital tools and exchanging ideas with an interdisciplinary approach that promotes the concepts that will lead to a successful goal from different points of view.

This interdisciplinary exchange of ideas will permeate the innovation process contributing to the retention of technology and human talent of many departments.

Innovation is not easy and motivating work teams to persist in their creative process is vital because otherwise it can be counterproductive. They must-have the tools and time that allow them to innovate so that the expectation of a favorable result is not a short-term obligation.

It is reasonable to think that the culture of innovation is not only measurable by the number of products it generates but also by the assimilation of a mentality and work method that facilitates other creative processes that generate innovative products and services.

Finally, it is critical that CIOs be an active part of the innovation culture, facilitating everything they can to properly guide the creative process and support the human talent that invests its energy and knowledge to achieve a result in line with the organizations and their own interests.

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