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Skill Shortages are Slowing Down Digital Transformation

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February 2, 2021
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5 minutes
Lynn's diverse perspectives on business stem from her extensive experience as a management consultant - her role as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother adds further depth to her insights.

The new normal has become a cliché in describing our post-COVID world. Perhaps a better description of what businesses are facing is the new reality.

Part of that new reality is an unprecedented war for talent as businesses try to find the digital experts they need for the technologies they must implement.

The world is unlikely to go back to what it was. Even without COVID-19, there has been an inexorable march of technology-driven business change. Moreover, the pandemic has just exponentially speeded it up. Business owners and leaders can no longer afford to be somewhat bemused by the talk of AI, IoT, or blockchain controlled supply chains. They don't have the luxury of time to introduce and implement changes to ensure real-time access to data or meet customer demand for digital interaction. Speed and agility have become the name of the game.

The challenge for business is that someone has to make all of these things happen. This brings us back to finding digital experts as we are in a time of skill shortages. This article's purpose is to describe some digital challenges businesses face and then highlight how digital consultant platforms offer a solution.

The Move to Digitization and Beyond

Most organizations have started on a digitization journey – converting from analog to digital and using technology to automate and optimize processes.

Digital marketing was perhaps the first step for many – connecting the company brand with customers through web and mobile, social media, and digital advertising. E-commerce and supply chain followed. Some of the emergency measures implemented for the pandemic also represent a move to digitization. This includes technology to support remote working and digital collaboration with employees and customers.

The speed at which technologies introduced during 2020 is almost as impactful as the technologies themselves. For example, a McKinsey report shows that migration to the cloud took an average of 23 days, compared to the pre-COVID expectation of about 500 days. Companies have seen what is possible and how flexibility and agility have become vital for business survival and competitiveness.

Some industries and companies have moved beyond digitization to digitalization. Here technology is used not just to transform processes but to disrupt business models. A good example is the healthcare diagnostics industry: IoT, mobile devices, and AI are moving diagnostics from hospitals into our homes. Data collected on wearables will pick up health problems, and mobile apps will screen for cancer. These technologies will further expand as preventative care improves.

However, the question remains for business – how to find the digital experts who will make all of this happen, and what are the skill sets that they need?

"Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies are happening in ever shorter cycles, changing the very nature of the jobs that need to be done - and the skills needed to do them - faster than ever before." - World Economic Forum, March 2019

Skills Shortages and the Trend Towards Outsourcing

Companies must respond rapidly to market volatility, changing regulations, and transformative technologies. To do this they require quick access to critical and specialized staff. However, hiring managers say critical positions are taking up to 40 days to fill, if the requisite skills are available at all.

In 2019, the World Economic Forum predicted that there would be 756,000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector by 2020. They predicted significant growth in skills gaps: "Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies are happening in ever shorter cycles. They are changing the very nature of the jobs that need to be done - and the skills needed to do them - faster than ever before." The WEF recommended that companies "swim outside their usual talent pools".

While companies continue to upskill and reskill their employees, many are moving away from static organizational charts. Instead, they are building up a pool of workers – both internal and external – that can respond quickly to new priorities. A significant resource is the pool of freelance consultants who are part of digital consultant platforms. Although they retain their independence, they are part of companies' flexible outsourcing strategies.

According to Statista, the worldwide value of outsourcing In 2019 was $92.5 billion, and $66.5 billion of this was for IT outsourcing. The value of this consulting marketplace has probably been even higher in 2020.

What Skills do Businesses Need Now?

One of the difficulties in finding digital experts is that business leaders are not always clear what technologies or skills are required. This inability to clearly articulate their needs is undoubtedly slowing down digital transformation.

Companies used to be looking for IT or ICT skills. Today there is an incredible array of digital skills. Business leaders do not understand what these skills even comprise. Let alone whether they are needed, or someone is available to deliver them.

Here's a short list of skills to ponder. Would any of them offer a solution to whatever your current business problem is? And if so, is there someone in your organization who could provide them?

This list is enough to make my eyes cross! If you're like me, you might need someone to explain what these terms even mean. You might also need people with the capabilities to explain what your current status is and what you need:

  • Digital Business Strategists
  • Digital Transformation Consultants
  • And, Digital Readiness Assessment Consultants

However, the question, again, is where to find them.

Using Online Consulting Platforms

The outsourcing approach to staffing may sound obvious. However, many companies are concerned that finding and hiring the right person will be complicated or take too long. They are not sure what it would cost or whether they will find someone who will quickly understand their business and deliver high-quality work.

These are all legitimate concerns that can be addressed by using reputable digital consultant platforms, such as Consultport.


Consultport advertises itself as a haven in a storm, with a simple three-step process for hiring digital transformation consultants:

  1. Speak with a Consultport manager who will work with you to understand your needs
  2. Choose your favorite candidate from a list suggested by Consultport – the average time to match your needs is 48 hours
  3. Start your project with your selected consultant or team of consultants. Consultport will take care of the admin work and will provide ongoing personal support

Consultport has a pool of over 3,500 management, industry, and digital consultants. They offer handpicked consultants for your needs because of their stringent screening and selection criteria. For example, digital experts must have had 5+ years' experience at a leading digital company or deep expertise in digital transformation topics or functions. Each consultant has a different rate that Consultport will tell you about. Moreover, you have a "no-risk, pay only if satisfied" guarantee – there is no charge for the request, search, and proposal stages.

And what digital consulting skills do they offer? Well, together with the eye-crossing list I provided earlier, I counted 99 different areas of expertise. (I must confess that I did not know so many even existed!)

So, if you have critical transformation challenges and feel as if you are out of your depth, Consultport may be a safe port in the digital storm for you?

Final thoughts

In conclusion, digital skills are becoming a scarce commodity at a time when it is a business imperative to keep up with technology. Fortunately, digital consulting platforms can help you find the digital experts you need to navigate what might seem somewhat murky waters.