‘Teaching to fish’ will allow firms to harness tech growth

Posted on July 3, 2020

Firms must develop IT talent from within their own organisation

The role of parasitic tech outsourcers must change, argues CloudStratex co-founder Adam O’Hare

Increasingly, understanding technology and its utilisation is the difference between success and failure in today’s competitive marketplace.

Yet as new technologies continue to emerge, businesses are finding it difficult to fully leverage everything they have to offer.

Those companies who do not invest in the new technology paradigm will be in a weaker position compared to their more tech-savvy rivals. It is they who will realise a range of productivity, services, and cost savings.

Unfortunately, the truth is that most companies outside of the tech industry do not have a clue as to how to do so – and this is exacerbated by the lack of IT-literate skilled workers.

Ultimately, the digital skills gap is widening and fast, with more and more businesses looking to external providers, before investing time and resource into training staff members in-house.

A 2019 study conducted by Whitelane Research revealed that by 2021 almost three-quarters of UK businesses are planning to maintain or expand the level of outsourcing they need. What is more surprising is that for the first time since 2016, organisations planning to insource have decreased from 22% to 16%.

This is not a phenomenon confined to our shores but one that can be found all over the world. It is no wonder then that the outsourcing industry is expected to grow globally by $98 billion during 2020-2024, according to recent research from marketing research company Technavio.

While the traditional IT outsourcing model sounds like a good idea in principle, in practice it stops businesses reaching their full potential, and instead leaves them too reliant on a parasitic relationship with their outsourcer. This costs them money, their autonomy and ensures they are none-the-wiser when it comes to leveraging technology.

This is the crux of the matter. In this new era, digital transformation is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it is a must for any business that wants to be competitive and successful. But companies have become hostage to their own inability to wean themselves away from outsourcers.

Instead they are reliant on them, because they do not have their own IT literate people in in place. That means they will never truly own the ‘digital-first’ strategy they pursue, because their outsourcers are in control. Simply put, outsourcing as we know it currently does not stimulate a company’s own growth or learning.

The future of outsourcing must be to create the conditions for clients to develop a talent pool of IT professionals from within their own organisation. There is an excellent saying that best encapsulates this: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

Outsourcers need to support companies to revisit their business strategies in order to place greater emphasis on incubating employees with the right skills and training. This will enable said company to leverage next generation technologies effectively and competitively, therefore ensuring their bright digital future.

Once this is achieved, the outsourcer leaves and heads out to pastures new, with their client now in the position to incubate their own talent from within.

What is in it for the outsourcer? A whole host of benefits but primarily their own evolution, and future resilience. After all, they are businesses themselves, so need to hone their own skills and experience in a variety of testing situations.

This will allow them to create a brand reputation for professionalism and integrity by leaving their clients in a stronger position then they were in before. This alone will result in more contract opportunities and profit.

Remember there are 5.9 million private sector businesses in the UK according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – so why be an incumbent to a few?

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