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How Digital Transformation Drives Demand for IT Talent

Talent development was a reoccurring topic at the WEF 2020 event in Davos this week. In related news, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) full-time employment (FTE) will reach 55.3 million worldwide in 2020 -- that's an increase of 3.9 percent over 2019, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

Moreover, the global ICT FTE workforce will maintain this pace of growth over the 2019-2023 forecast period, reaching more than 62 million people in 2023, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8 percent.

ICT Talent and Emerging Staffing Trends

IDC believes a person can, as part of an occupation, perform several roles and split their time across those roles. The combination of roles for an occupation may vary over time between industries and organizations, even though the activities performed by a role remain relatively stable.

Within ICT job roles, activities are performed within projects, programs, and lines of business related to development of software, hardware, or related services. ICT job roles can be found in any industry, enterprise, or organization and are not related only to the ICT specific industries.

The largest role groups are the applications group, containing eight roles related to software development and management, the other IT technical group, which includes five graphic, multimedia, and Web design roles, and the technical support group with five roles.

Together, these three groups will account for roughly three quarters of all ICT FTEs throughout the forecast. The cybersecurity role group will see the fastest growth with a five-year CAGR of 9.6 percent while the other IT technical role group will remain essentially flat with a 0.1 percent CAGR.

Of the 40 technology job roles covered by IDC, three will account for nearly one-third of all ICT roles throughout the forecast period: software developer or engineer, user support specialist, and systems analyst. The fastest-growing roles will be a data scientist (13.7 percent CAGR), machine learning developer (13.6 percent CAGR), and data engineer (12.9 percent CAGR).

IDC explored the impact that Digital Transformation (DX) will have on job skills and emerging roles within an enterprise organization. DX-related job roles focus on extracting and developing the value and utility of information, making business operations more effective and accelerating workforce transformation.

Non-DX job roles typically focus on less strategic ICT activities and primarily help to support day-to-day operations. Today, DX roles make up 40 percent of technology FTEs, but IDC expects this share to reach 52 percent by 2023.

"Digital Transformation (DX) technology investment is the driving force behind IT investment. The IT skillset needed to deliver DX projects is changing, with some of the fastest-growing demand for IT roles centered around data and intelligence," said Craig Simpson, research manager at IDC.

According to the IDC assessment, we're moving away from IT employees being focused around basic IT installation and maintenance roles and shifting toward roles that can build database architecture and functionality to derive intelligence and insights from an organization's DX efforts.

Outlook for Digital Transformation Talent Demand

As industries fully embrace digital transformation, new skills and roles are needed to shape technology roadmaps, and support and implement these changes. Discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing and banking are expected to employ the most FTEs for digital transformation.

The impact of digital transformation on the structure and composition of an IT organization is significant – as DX and innovation become a larger part of everyday IT operations, the IT organization is going to adjust who it hires, how IT employees are developed, and the career progression of IT professionals.

"IT organizational change will be an organizational transformation as critical to the success of the enterprise as DX itself," said Cushing Anderson, program vice president, IT Education and Certification at IDC.

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