Now, more than ever, technology permeates our lives every day. It’s not just a business productivity tool, it’s how we order up entertainment, shop, ‘do’ life. This has changed forever the way the traditional IT sector – IT vendors and providers – bring solutions to market and is proving more often than not that they don’t have the deep cultural understanding or the necessary human and emotional quotient they need.
In fact, there is a glaring shortage of these skills across the sector. Discover Digital believes that to succeed in the ultracompetitive IT environment, a mindset change is in order – at every level of the company.
To monetise technical skills and solutions, IT companies now need to ‘humanise’ technology, make it consumable, take it to market in a more personalised way and engage with end customers on a much deeper level. Without these skills, IT companies are realising that the best software or business idea is going to remain quietly in-house.
While technical skills remain important, IT companies must also have management experience, an understanding of the market, communication, negotiation and relationship building skills if they want to monetise technical skills. With a significant shortage in the market of people who understand IT and can effectively take it to market and harness it to the benefit of the business, a different approach is essential.
Traditionally, advanced technical skills are highly sought-after in the IT sector and those in possession of them are paid top dollar. The detracting and poorly termed ‘softer’ skills, on the other hand, have long been undervalued. Women in tech businesses are often referred to as non-tech if they aren’t programmers or coders, despite having granular, holistic knowledge and understanding of the human problem the tech is trying to solve and the tech business itself. Women have thus often found themselves at a disadvantage in terms of career progression and remuneration. This has clearly contributed to the gender imbalance we see in the IT sector. Creating an enabling environment to grow these more relevant EQ skills would go a long way to turning this problem around.
Recognising the value of human skills demands a mindset change. Forward-thinking companies like Discover Digital are seeing the benefits.
We regard human-led skills as crucial to our success. We have a 50-50 male-female split on our exco team and traditional gender roles are not entrenched, so all our executives have a say in technical and marketing issues. We share equal responsibility in negotiations and workloads, salaries are on par, and both male and female employees feel confident asking for time off to care for their children. This supports work-life balance in a fair way, enhances job satisfaction for all, and allows all employees to contribute soft and technical skills for the overall good of the company.
We believe that if all skills are valued, traditional gender roles are set aside and old school thinking is eliminated, innovation will flourish. This new thinking is already taking hold in every aspect of technology, from the design thinking that now guides and shapes the development of applications, to the analytics-driven customer relationship management solutions that enable deeper engagement and personalised offerings. As quoted in the Harvard Business Review, ‘how great a disadvantage might we put ourselves—and the world—if we force our minds to approach all problems the same way?’.
The digital era brings immense opportunity, changing how people contribute and value their contributions. In the IT sector, it will be companies that are able to adapt quickly, creating a company culture that values every input and removes the limitations that outdated hierarchies and thinking impose, that will thrive.