IBM's chief digital officer opens up about the scarcity of B2B digital talent

The talent in the field of digital is scarce. Technology changes are happening rapidly and there are not enough capable individuals to fill the digital gaps in companies.

The problem seems to be further intensified for those in the B2B field, said Bob Lord, chief digital officer of IBM during a recent interview with A+M. According to Lord, said while there are digital and tech talents in the market, most play in the B2C space.

“The reality is digital talent exists, but this is mostly in the B2C space. The B2B world hasn't really applied digital technologies to its own business core processes,” he explained.  He explained B2B hasn’t embraced digital the way B2C has and hence is late into the game.

A poll done at the recent CIO Summit Singapore 2016 also revealed that despite 85% of organisations embarking on a “transformative project”, there is a lack of talent knowledgeable in areas such as cybersecurity (23%), analytics (21%) and enterprise architecture (19%).

This no doubt, spells trouble for organisations as having employees with the relevant skills is important to thrive in the digital age.

When asked how brands and companies can better harvest B2B digital talent, Lord,who is  IBM's first CDO and who is tasked to bring together the IBM Digital Business Group, said one way the company is overcoming this is by eyeing those who major in computer science. In his prior stints, Lord was president of AOL and global CEO at Publicis Groupe’s digital technology unit, Razorfish.

In fact, most recently in Malaysia, IBM also recently partnered with INTI International University & Colleges to introduce its IBM Innovation Center for the Education (ICE) program. IBM ICE is a series of Undergraduate Programs and Academic courses for the Computing & IT and Business verticals, taught by IBM certified experts Devised in consultation. And it certainly comes at an opportune time as the market looks to rapidly expand its status as a regional IT hub.

“It is a very demanding field. But we can find a lot of talent around digital marketing and digital sales. I do think the whole world is looking for a computer science major. To help them think through what it means in computer science for the business,” he said.

Another challenge, he added, was that graduates are not able to translate what they are taught in school into the work they do. For this real life partnerships with industry professionals are needed.

For IBM, it has ensured internship positions with universities in the US to arm university students in the tech field also learn on what’s the actual job scope like in the workforce.

“I think the next generation is living and breathing digital technology. It's second nature to them. I think the talent is there. Part of it is harnessing the talent and mixing it with the older generation so the older generation and new technology co-exist together,” Lord added.

(Photo courtesy: 123 RF)