As an engineer and IT professional, I have found the evolution of technology in business over the last decade nothing short of fascinating. What used to be relegated to large-scale computing rooms, dimly lit by flickering server diodes, has become a core part of modern business. Technology is no longer a supporting act, it’s one of the headliners — driving business and entire economies.
In its wake, tech talent has seen the workplace change fundamentally. Instead of servicing monolithic software running on hardware that remained the same for years, technology professionals today face ever-shorter innovation cycles and continuous change.
Digital acceleration is set to remain very much at the heart of business and economic transformation in the next few decades with substantial ramifications for employers. Rather than just offering a “secure job”, they need to give staff opportunities for continuous learning and growth to keep pace with the speed of technology and business innovation.
Doing so is no mean feat, especially in these turbulent times: it’s all about ensuring a balance between technology and talent — not prioritizing one over the other. To me, this is the key message Randstad must take to its clients to support their future growth.
Technology is no longer a supporting act, it’s one of the headliners — driving business and entire economies.
cementing ongoing transformation
In my early days in the technology industry, IT rollouts were projects with a fixed beginning and end. Similarly, business innovation and learning came with a fixed timeline and scope. We couldn’t be further from that today. We know that very few — if any — of the technology frameworks and business models in existence right now are likely to survive the next five or 10 years. And the progress of technological innovation will increasingly blur the lines between industries.
We have already seen amalgamations between, for example, the finance and technology sectors (fintech), healthcare and tech, travel and tech. But the advent of the metaverse will blur the boundaries even further by fusing all different types of industries, business models and technologies.
life-long learning and business evolution
This means businesses can’t afford to be monolithic when it comes to the two vital relationships they have — with their clients and employees. For clients, we need to add more value to our core propositions and develop much closer relationships with them. The current trajectory business is on will ultimately transform the traditional supplier-buyer dynamic into a partnership.
When it comes to employees, we must empower them with the right tools and training so they can curate, deploy and govern these new value propositions. It will also be critical to create a culture that champions personal growth — at all career stages — alongside the growth of the business. Organizations need a learning culture that every employee can enter into in their own way.
talent first, digital first
While many opportunities lie ahead, let’s not forget that the next few years will likely force businesses to make very difficult decisions and trade-offs. But, despite the obvious need to prioritize digital transformation, we must not cast talent development aside, quite the opposite.
When faced with the choice between a “talent first” or a “digital first” mandate, talent must take precedence. Because technology on its own can’t innovate — without the right talent, sustained digital transformation is not going to happen. Ultimately, innovation comes from people. The companies that successfully navigate the challenges ahead will be those that follow a dual “talent first, digital first” mandate.
At Randstad, we see this dual priority becoming a key differentiator as businesses enter the next phase of their transformation. And our ambition is to provide them with the talent-driven digital solutions and services they will need to succeed.