This question goes around my head whenever I hear the phrase “war for talent” trotted out. I can’t help but conclude that if as a leader you hear these words, then your talent offer isn’t cutting it. The challenge is the people needed are more at home in a younger, fresher environment than in the belly of an aging corporate beast.
This situation is getting critical. To thrive in this era where new tools and technologies appear instantly on the horizon, then your business needs to be nimble, innovative, and disruptive to exploit them. These are not words that one often associates with the large, lumbering corporate beast heavy on process, working in silos, and (rightly) risk-averse. But these facets that have served corporates so well over the decades need to be switched up. The reason is the products and services to the brands and experiences business provide are no longer stand-alone entities but increasingly complex configurations, strung out across various digital platforms and providers, connecting to delight the customer. The signposts of this change are everywhere.
Look at the sheer pace of transformative change unfolding across the financial services industry right now. Alliances and commercial configurations have exploded, with APIs and data architectures creating a wave of young, hungry Fintech entrepreneurs eager to disrupt traditional banks and provide the highly personalized, intuitive products and services that digitally-savvy customers prize so much. Head to London, Paris, Zurich or New York, and you will find Fintech events galore, as customer demand switches channels and technologies bleed into everything, from chat-bots, natural language processing to sentiment analysis to determine next best actions. Customers don’t just want banking statements anymore; they want help with their lives (read our prescription on how to survive the impending shake out in The New Banking Genome).
That Fintech disruption is now on the march across every industry just like the Gilet Jaunes in France! Look for a wave of local start-ups (yes, here in Europe) in EdTech, AdTech, InsureTech, HealthTech, etc. levering agile processes and a greater tolerance for risk, to experiment, iterate, aim and fire at an incumbent’s business model. Everything is up for grabs because, at the click of a button, companies can now integrate their supply chains, share resources, and even their facilities. New industries are emerging, and new brokers are deciding their economic direction. Don’t believe me? Check out Germany’s RIO, a newly minted challenger in the logistics industry with an open, independent, cloud-based platform that bundles/aggregates solutions into a comprehensive supply chain offering for customers. RIO is a digital platform for the entire logistics industry (and if you’ve read me before you know how much platforms matter in this new economic era). It combines and aggregates information about units, trailers, superstructures, drivers and orders with data about traffic, weather and navigation into valuable recommendations for action in real time. And, of course, it’s all highly configurable for the smallest to the largest customer.
Of course, the technology matters but talented, visionary people that can bring fresh and exciting ideas (like the concept of RIO) into the heart of the business matter too. Self-directed and well connected, I guarantee you will find the people you need at meet-ups, start-ups or in a shared workspace in a city near you (watch for my report on this very soon). My thinking is you should see them as an extended talent pool; See them as a bunch of passionate and creative self-starters that can help channel innovation from outside your firm into the heart of it and really switch things up. I hate to say it, but this is an extended talent pool free from the crushing institutional inertia that many leaders struggle to break. Cognizant hears from a growing number of leader’s eager to inject the art of the possible into their teams. They want the agility, pace and devil-may-care attitude to transform a work culture stuck in the past; they want people that can ignite the innovation to thrive in this new tech-driven era full of promise and uncertainty. That is why the corporate landscape is awash with hackathons and corporate accelerators with the aim of marshaling fresh energy and ideas across tired and jaded business units to unlock something special. Leaders face an imperative to raise the pace of innovation and compete for customer mindshare before a competitor or start-up, or a combination of both blindsides their business and blows performance clear out of the water. Given the rapid pace of business change, leaders need to learn how to experiment and iterate and engage with broader talent pool to take advantage of emerging trends in anything from artificial intelligence and machine learning to robotics and drones.
So where will you find the talent to survive and thrive in a world where business never stops changing? You know, truly transformative innovation—the stuff that changes business processes, business models and an entire value chain? It requires catalysts (people) that can offer fresh and innovative ideas, cutting-edge tools, insight on new technologies, and new expertise. We think finding these people and bringing them into the business is getting harder to do. You need to know where to find them. My new report that I mentioned above is done in partnership with TechNation to map out Europe’s emerging innovation networks from the ground up. Europe doesn’t have the biggest digital economy in the world, but it what it does have is a burgeoning entrepreneurial class fizzing with new ideas and experimenting with the new technologies that are landing on all of us thick and fast. Leaders that are eager to shift the gears on innovation need to learn how to splice this rich and extended talent pool with their existing workforce. Your first job is to know where they are and then figure out how to access them. Watch this space.