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Perspectives by ThoughtWorks - Edition 5 banner
Perspectives by ThoughtWorks - Edition 5 banner
EDITION #5 I RELEASED June 2019

Redefining talent for the digital age

With enterprises of all kinds gearing up to implement digital strategies, the search for tech talent is starting to look less like a competition, and more like a war. In this issue of Perspectives, we explore how to create entirely new talent models to secure the skills needed for a digital age.


As more enterprises embrace technology-driven transformation, the battle to find, and keep, digital talent has never been more intense - and all indications are there’s no end in sight. 



In this environment, offering higher salaries or a posher office will only get a company so far. Businesses have to create entirely new talent models to secure the skills needed for a digital age, and foster future-proof workforces.

2030: Global technology, media and telecommunications talent deficit by economy

Diagram - Talent deficit by economy in 2030
Diagram - Talent deficit by economy in 2030

Source: Korn Ferry

Forget everything you’ve heard about hiring

Every year, new roles are suddenly in high demand. But the first step to talent success is learning to ignore the hype and instead concentrate on the capabilities that support the business’s individual goals. An enterprise doesn’t necessarily need more data scientists - but it does need a talent strategy connected directly to its core purpose.

Quote from  Joanna Parke, Chief Talent Officer, ThoughtWorks

“Talent strategy has to start with the overall business strategy. It requires understanding what your company is trying to achieve in the next couple of years and how you might go about doing that, then working backwards and figuring out the specific skills that are needed to get there. It’s a skills-based, rather than a job-based approach.”



Joanna Parke, Chief Talent Officer, ThoughtWorks



The talent digital demands

Technology skills are important - but at the rate technologies change, may not stay relevant for long. Enterprises should be seeking out the ‘soft’ skills that contribute to their capacity for change, and emphasizing diversity in their talent pools to encourage new approaches to problem-solving and achievement. Capabilities like these may not come with certificates, but can be measured and developed like any other.

A soft skills checklist

Diagram - Soft Skills Checklist
Diagram - Soft Skills Checklist
Source: ThoughtWorks

Learning to look inside 

Sometimes there’s so much focus on luring new talent that a company neglects the resources that are already at its disposal. In a talent-scarce time, that can be a major mistake. An effective talent strategy recognizes current employees need to be constantly re-recruited, and that there’s a shared duty to ensure existing skills are regularly refreshed, through a “cultivation culture.”

Quote from Sameer Soman, Managing Director India, ThoughtWorks

“One of our explicit expectations is that everybody cultivates others. That means taking a keen interest in your colleagues, what their aspirations are, what their skills and talents are, what they want to do and giving those opportunities to them. And if you’re a senior leader, once you provide that opportunity, to get out of the way.”


­Sameer Soman, Managing Director India, ThoughtWorks

Purpose, not perks 

What does digital talent really want? Pay and perks are nice, but material things are just the beginning. Opportunities to learn, a genuine sense of purpose and flexible working arrangements can prove a much more powerful draw for current and prospective employees alike. Most of all, people want a working environment where they know they’ll be heard.

Does work have a future?

The talent crunch won’t be easing anytime soon. Thankfully, with its challenges come opportunities. Hiring strategies will grow more global. More employers will step up to help develop the talent they need themselves, rather than relying on governments or educational institutions to do it for them. And the very nature of work may transform to an extent that few companies, or employees, are expecting.

Quote from Ruth Gorman, Global Talent Development Program Lead, ThoughtWorks

”The concept of work itself is changing; it’s almost like work and life are merging closer together. We should be asking whether in 5 or 10 years people will even want to be permanent employees anymore. There’s likely to be some radical change and disruption in that space, and I don’t think many organizations are fully prepared for what it might look like.”


Ruth Gorman, Global Talent Development Program Lead, ThoughtWorks

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