What´s new in the world of skills in June 2010

Hard facts, hard skills and the growing importance of IT-Business-Alignment.

The current trend towards training in hard skills confirms our view that while basic soft skills are necessary, they should no longer be the focus of company’s own continuing professional development.

But where can required skills be learnt? Which universities are regarded by recruiters as beneficial for careers? What kinds of skills are in demand? Answers to these questions can be found in the weekly business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

Our 2010 study focused on IT business alignment – in other words, a much closer concentration of IT activities on business objectives.The large number of articles on IT business alignment published in May clearly demonstrates just how topical this subject is.

AutomotiveIT, the trade journal for IT in the automotive industry, for example, reports on an IDC-Study of IT Service Management which shows that the value added by IT is recognised and used by just 20% of the 200 companies with over 500 employees in the survey. 46% and 32% of respondents respectively tend rather to focus on enhancing service level and cutting costs.

The fact that IT and other departments often work to very different targets and budgets means that cooperation only takes place far too late in the project lifecycle, with all the inefficiencies this implies. Nonetheless, 41% of respondents believe that the creation of an internal interface between the IT and other departments is both necessary and appropriate. A good example is Munich Airport.

Companies in other countries appear to have made more progress in this direction. In Switzerland, for example, as a survey of Swiss CEOs and CFOs conducted by Swisscom IT Services and the University of St. Gallen has shown. For 74% of the respondents in the 2009 survey “IT quality” improvement is more important than cost reduction. 46% even regard IT as a lever for the optimisation of business objectives – a view which in turn calls for much stronger IT business alignment. The Round Table at the University of Liechtenstein also emphasises the importance of IT for business and for the European eSkills initiative.

The boundaries between IT and business certainly already appear to have become blurred in the USA according to the articles by Joe McKendrick in zdnet.com and Julia King in computerworld.com.

In both of these reports, companies relate how executives have accumulated experience in both IT, as well as sales, product management or customer service. Job rotation of this kind is no coincidence – in fact it is actively encouraged and contributes to corporate success.These companies are in no doubt that IT is a business enabler. In this context the articles illustrate some interesting examples from the real business world.