The Corporate Innovation Skills Gap and How It Is Changing IT Teams

Moving forward together with innovation

As innovation takes on a larger role in corporate strategy, IT leaders like CIOs and CTOs are having to adjust their teams to deal with increasing expectations, responsibilities and influence.

This means that positions are evolving, new corporate positions are being added and IT teams are recruiting to broaden their skill sets.

With that in mind, here are some insights into how the need for innovation is changing the makeup of corporate IT teams.

A Shortage of Skilled Innovation Experts

65% of CIOs report that they are experiencing a skills shortage.

Technology has advanced at such a rapid pace that many employees have simply failed to keep up, and CIOs are left looking to reshape and expand innovation teams as a result.

The biggest areas where CIOs are looking to hire over the next two years include analytics, customer and digital experience, program management and cloud and distributed systems.

Innovators coming on board

In the interim, most companies are using consultants and outsourcing tasks to fill the gaps and support the internal team. Some companies are turning to automation to help provide IT teams with additional support, but this is ultimately a temporary fix as the pressure to innovate will only increase.

CIOs will have to become more creative about locating and recruiting top talent and offer existing team members the tools and resources to expand their own skill set so that they can evolve, grow and continue to be relevant.

In order to keep up the pace of innovation in the face of this HR crisis, innovation executives need to adapt by shifting the makeup of their IT teams.

In some cases that means bringing on new roles and in others it means evolving existing roles.

New Roles

Chief Disruption Officer

Innovation is so important to the survival of a company that in addition to a CIO, many corporate innovation teams are also bringing in a chief disruption officer.

It is the job of the CDO to embrace and encourage disruption as a way to produce significant changes and long-term value.

As a new executive position, CDOs can face resistance in the corporate boardroom from people who are comfortable with the status quo. But looking forward, the CDO will be an important part of a comprehensive innovation team that large companies need in order to take an organized and strategic approach to innovation.

Chief Evangelist

This title is not the most commonly heard, but some of the most innovative companies — Apple, for example — have been fueled by chief evangelists who were able to convert “non-believers” of their products into loyal customers. The impact of this position is changing the shape of the corporate innovation team.

Learn more about the Chief Evangelist role

While other corporate positions may be focused on the bottom line, the chief evangelist is looking for ways to make sure the company is perceived as an iconic industry leader.

Chief evangelists make everyone a believer

They take on a big picture view and look at shaping products, branding and messaging accordingly.

The chief evangelist can often lay the roadmap for innovation and help create a company culture that inspires company employees throughout the ranks.

They offer a clear vision and contagious inspiration and motivation, which can act as a catalyst for innovation.

For companies that are committed to innovation but need to create a new image and energy around the company, both internally and externally, a chief evangelist may be the perfect addition to the innovation team.

Evolving Roles

Enterprise Architect

Executing innovation strategies is particularly challenging because it requires bringing stakeholders from the technology with business departments together.

If left alone, a gap can form between these departments that is difficult to bridge, and which can hinder a company’s ability to cultivate new ideas.

Bringing teams together

In today’s highly competitive business world where innovation is the key to longevity, enterprise architects are tasked with working to unite these various teams.

Enterprise architects need to be proactive when it comes to innovation

They are expected to fully understand both the business and technical departments and effectively convey the importance of innovation to all relevant players.

It is up to them to bring together teams, forge connections among department leaders and ensure that business and IT are working together toward the common goal of meaningful innovation.

Chief Innovation Officer

All of these changes to the CIO’s team means that the role of the CIO is also changing to adapt to the increasing influence of innovation at the executive level.

While CIOs have long been a starter on the corporate IT team, their role varies from company to company and needs to be flexible enough to adapt as industry innovations bring on new demands.

If this position is given the proper freedom and support, it can have the largest impact on the health and future of the company.

Innovation Planning

5 Ways CIOs Boost Innovation

The CIO position lacks that same job description and boundaries as other leadership roles and with good reason. This leader needs to be able to walk the line between departments and restructure their own responsibilities as CDOs, enterprise architects, chief evangelists and new experts are added to a more dynamic and agile innovation team.

The CIO will still need to strike the right balance between innovation and risk, seek out new sources for innovation, apply lessons from other industries and establish clear metrics for measuring innovation.

However, their role among a larger team will continue to evolve and it is up to them to create a structure that allows everyone to perform their best.

Closing the Gap

In the future, traditional corporate hierarchies will continue to expand to include innovation leadership roles.

With these new positions, IT teams will be reshaped with a bigger focus on innovation and new skill sets to propel the company forward.

About the author

Toby is the founder and CEO of prooV, an entrepreneur and out-of-the-box thinker who is eager to lead the PoC revolution.