Rebooting Tech Talent In The Race For AI
by Dean DeBiase
As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to dominate headlines, business leaders stand at a crossroads: They must recruit and retain the cutting-edge talent required to accelerate the adoption of AI while managing through a perplexing smorgasbord of economic uncertainties that have led to unprecedented workforce reductions in the tech sector.
According to Layoffs.fyi, approximately 1,000 tech companies fired over 164,000 people in 2022 and 193,000 (so far) in 2023—with Accenture, Alphabet, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft each announcing over 10,000 layoffs at a time.
Whether your company is experiencing tech layoffs or talent shortages, believe it or not, attrition remains high for most employers, inflating in-house recruiting costs and blocking businesses from advancing long-planned digital transformation and IT initiatives.
What does this have to do with AI?
In this seemingly paradoxical market, beyond all the layoffs, CEO's are struggling to balance today's growing demand for AI skills with longer-term business growth needs. They are learning that it's time to reboot their thinking around innovation strategies—starting with people. Smart leaders should be thinking about how to channel these disruptive dynamics into their talent strategies, just as they've been doing with technology strategies for several years.
I recently spoke with Jim Kavanaugh, co-founder and CEO of $17B technology solutions provider World Wide Technology (WWT), about what a dynamic talent strategy should look like in today's race to AI. For him, that strategy comes down to two things: Scalability and Culture.
Kavanaugh likened the current talent landscape as a perfect storm, in which "the race for tech talent is intensifying and forcing businesses to find more agile talent strategies that help fend off complacency and allow them to evolve AI strategies at the rapid rate required to compete and succeed."
One estimate predicts nearly 150 million new IT jobs are expected to be created over the next few years as organizations modernize IT infrastructure, shift the division of labor between humans and machines, and adopt a more automated, data-driven way of doing business.
People Platform Passion
Managers can learn a lot from hybrid-leaders who can authentically balance what I think are key organizational assets—people (the who), platform (the what), and passion (the why)—when building organizations, or just driving growth, innovation and change.
Kavanaugh's perspective appears to be informed by his experiences as both a large enterprise using technology and as a market leader deploying and supporting it for global clients. Over the past 33 years, he grew WWT by helping enterprises accelerate digital transformation strategies through strategic IT consulting and execution services, in partnership with some of the world's most advanced hardware and software providers. His hybrid-ness most likely came from his early-days, when he was an Olympic and professional soccer player, where he observed firsthand the power of perseverance, drive, and teamwork. He seems to still be applying those qualities building WWT's award-winning workplace with people and partners that perform.