Is Lack of Talent the Reason for Not Achieving Desired Performance Breakthroughs?

If you’re following my blogs regularly, you know that I’ve been discussing what we at Everest Group think is the issue of our time. Vetted, powerful new technologies such as cloud, analytics, cognitive computing and robotic process automation (RPA) should be making big differences in businesses; but for the most part, they’re achieving only modest, incremental benefits. I’ve also blogged about whether the maturity of the technologies is the reason for their not delivering performance breakthroughs. We need to also consider whether talent is the reason for the lack of breakthroughs.

A reasonable question is whether companies have people trained in using these technologies. Is the outcome of only modest benefits because of the IT talent? Do we need to replace our existing workforce or completely retrain our workforce?

In answering that question, I go back to the story I related in a prior blog about the breakthrough transformation American Express achieved in introducing its organization to agile development and DevOps. Yes, they spent some time retraining the IT organization, but they didn’t have to replace them. The people quickly adapted to the new technologies.

H. D. Smith, a pharmaceutical distributor since 1954, transformed its business to the digital world and expanded to providing innovative services and solutions. As I previously blogged about this case, there was some dislocation of existing staff; but for the most part, the existing people mastered the new technologies.

So we can’t explain the lack of performance breakthroughs from powerful, disruptive technologies as a lack of talent or a training issue alone. Yes, it can contribute to it. But there is plenty of talent to drive breakthrough performance, particularly if the promise of the technology is as big as it is. Furthermore, cost should not be a big issue for the kind of benefits that these technologies promise.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss another possible culprit for this phenomenon of only seeing modest, incremental benefits instead of performance breakthroughs from powerful new technologies.