In its report released in 2015, the European Commission highlighted the need for ICT and digital talent which will only increase to reach around 900 000 vacancies by 2020. Moreover, with the digital transformation of many industries, new jobs are being created, and talent may not even be educated in these new fields. Therefore, CIOs, and especially HR Directors are facing a challenge they've never encountered before. During the Gartner Symposium ITXpo which took place from November 6-10 in Barcelona, Richard Hunter, analyst at Gartner gave a presentation entitled "The Talent Platform: Branding and Marketing IT to Talent".

Attracting top talent to boost innovation

Richard Hunter first started by comparing results from the CIO Agenda reports from 2012 and 2016. One element is striking: they have the same issues regarding talent. "It's not too late to act" added the Gartner specialist. "Yet, they now really need to think of doing something different". Sure, some CIOs, find pretty unpleasant to recruit if we look at the love/hate survey regarding their tasks. The balance of power has shifted between talent and the enterprise: "Top talents have things going for them that they didn't have 10 years ago". They are notably visible through social networks and the direct result of this new paradigm is that they now choose the organization they wish to work for. "A whole new approach" added Richard. But it makes sense, as "top talent makes a bigger different, it thinks differently". And if they leave the company because they are not challenged enough, they'll take the innovation with them, that is why the Googles and Apples recognize their talents and are able to retain them. Back in the day, developers were seen as clerical workers and their job was, most of the time outsourced, now, in 2016, leading companies are insourcing the talent: they don’t want them to go to the competitors. "Employment is not transactional anymore, it's a relationship". It's more than that actually, as employees need to be seen as a potential recruitment contributor or even a brand advocate.

 

Polishing your company brand

To promote their brands, and be lovable to top talent, HR and CIOs need to create a candidate experience similar to the customer experiences built by their marketing teams. In order to do that, they need to build a talent platform which puts data and analytics at the center: "know the talent even before it comes for work for your company" adds Richard. This talent lifecycle actually begins with inspiration.  Talents explore, evaluate their option and make a decision to engage or not. It they engage they apply, then continue to explore or take the decision to abandon. No matter the outcome, it drives advocacy, in one direction or another. But it's more than that as they let people know about their experience. Therefore, companies need to polish their image if they want to attract talent.

And whether they created it or not, all companies have a brand. A brand is an expression of a company's value proposition, culture, and so much more. Companies notably need to communicate their mission to talents and especially to Millenials. They also need to put emphasis on the nature of the work (for example, in a tech-savvy and innovate company), talk about the lifestyle that goes with working for this specific company, but also about the nature of the building and the working environment. Moreover, one must not forget the management style, which may not suit every talent.

During his inspiring presentation, the Gartner analyst shared concrete examples. He notably quoted David Gledhill, Managing Director and Head, Group Technology and Operations, DBS (Development Bank Singapore): "Rather than changing our approach to hiring talent, it's about changing how DBS is viewed, which attracts a set of talent that would otherwise not have chosen us". The bank, with its innovate approach, has become one of Singapore's best employers according to the AON survey. Richard also talked about Zappos, one of the US' biggest retailers. The company has adopted a holacratic management style with no hierarchy, making it a unique place to work. The company also organizes "Insider" sessions where clients and potential future talents can spend a day at the company and be, in a way, part of it.

 

How to send a powerful brand message?

To conclude this session, Richard Hunter share tips with the audience. First of all, companies must define a brand that is meaningful to the talent it wants to attract. They then have to acquire and analyze data to identify the target audiences. Of course, they will need to use the platform to match messages, talent and channels. Once talents have joined, they must not forget the importance of analyzing personal performance in order to identify influencers.

Acording to him, "companies need to make the talent platform a priority for their digital business". CIOs need to build an ongoing collaboration with HR and Marketing, start with data about its current employees, get the brand straight before building such platforms – in other words, understand what the brand represents – and "use the talent they have to get more of the talent you need". He concluded by stating that the market offering for talent platforms will grow exponentially in the months to come.

 

Alexandre Keilmann