Match Your Technology to a Changing World

Date:   Tuesday , February 02, 2016

Companies are retooling for the technology era: changing how they work, sell, service and deliver. As the world gets smaller with greater global competition, business cycles are shorter and organizations are forced to be more agile. Cyber hacking and disruptive technologies pose new risks, but companies are also pioneering new ways of working that reshape how business is done. As head of technology at Manpower Group, a global workforce solutions company with over 400,000 clients across 80 countries, I see these changes up close. Companies are thinking differently about everything from managing employee engagement to client relationships. As a result, the role of IT leaders within companies is evolving. Businesses need greater flexibility to catch market shifts as they happen and dodge competition. This new world of work is still taking shape, but we can spot the trends on the horizon.

Companies are More Interconnected and Specialized

Clients, like everyone else, are exposed to rapid changes in how products are conceived and delivered. To adapt, they are increasingly leveraging technology and partnerships that give them the capacity and flexibility to respond quickly. They expect service providers to be aggressive users of technology and be able to rapidly scale up, while maintaining quality and managing costs.

This is particularly true when it comes to workforce management. Given how quickly companies\' IT needs are evolving, many struggle to hire enough people with the right skills and experience. Instead, they look for partners to bring in specialist skills and technologies, and keep their in-house IT departments smaller and more agile. We have seen this in our own business as we use partners to engineer the shift to cloud computing, move to mobile and usage of better analytics. Through such strategic partnerships, companies get best-in-class IT capabilities at lower costs. The trick is learning to integrate and effectively manage these new vendor relationships.

In all likelihood, IT budgets will remain relatively flat in the coming years, fueled by the ever-decreasing costs of computing and automation. Corporations will continue to expect more for less, and customers will want more sophisticated solutions. That will put greater pressure on CIOs, and makes it all the more important to choose reliable, proven partners.

Security Concerns Point to New Accountability for IT

Each new data breach or act of cyber espionage reported in the news highlights the inherent risks of companies holding and relying on so much digital information. C-suite executives have realized that information security is no longer optional and are demanding effective solutions. In fact, recent research from one of our brands, Experis, shows that 45 percent of VPs rank Info Sec at the top of their list of concerns. Boards increasingly want assurances that CIOs are employing effective risk management strategies that will protect clients, customers, intellectual property and the corporate brand.

CIOs have to provide a robust information security frame work tailored to business needs. They need to balance the costs with the potential damage from cyber-attacks and tailor the right kind of information security program. Our customers insist on validating our Info Sec standards, and we do the same with our suppliers. This is the new normal and the demand for greater security is reshaping the CIO role in the information security space.

Technology is Transforming Recruiting and Talent Management

The HR world is not always on the leading edge of technological change, but the pace of transformation today signals something big is happening within corporations. From social recruiting and applicant tracking systems to digital performance scorecards and behavioral analytics, HR is embracing IT and changing how companies work both inside and out. Making sense of this data deluge can be a challenge and requires new skill sets and support. CIOs will need to understand and manage people systems just as they do financial systems.

Technology makes it possible to reach talent and offer relevant opportunities, while driving downtime to hire. Consequently, the entire recruitment process-sourcing, assessment, selection and reference checks-is getting automated with self-service options. At the same time, everyone is moving to mobile. Close to 90 percent of recruiters now use social media. Analytics and big data have started to make significant inroads into the selection and retention process too. In this way technology is driving efficiency, but also introducing new business models.

Just like the IT space, as workforce management gets more complex and specialized, many employers are looking to leverage partnerships to get the expertise they need while controlling costs. This demand for both niche and scale is driving a trend towards more of a global platform model. We see this among the large industry players, but also in talent-based communities and the Uberization of recruitment. The emergence of startups like Up Work and, leveraging the so-called Human Cloud, on-demand model are part of this trend towards global, more flexible solutions. There is a lot of change going around.

Agility, Customization and the Human Touch

As systems and technology allow greater automation of internal and external processes, companies are faced with a new question: what to automate and what not to? Everyone wants to cut costs, but employers that offer customers and employees a more personalized, customized experience still have an edge. Finding the right balance, not just in staffing but in business generally, will be a key differentiator of successful companies going forward.

In this high-change business environment, driven by greater globalization and technology on steroids, large organizations will need to devise new, more agile business models, tailored to appropriate market segments. They will need the ability to move with the market. Equally, enterprise segments will require very different solutions, but there too, innovations can make areal difference. CIOs have front seats on this rollercoaster ride and will play a crucial role helping companies navigate IT change intelligently.