In Your Own Interest

As I recently mentioned in another post, we had about 150 IT thought leaders join salesforce.com strategists for an On-Demand Executive Summit program at this year’s Dreamforce. One striking comment during those summit sessions came from Jeff Hunter, Director of Global Talent Technologies at gaming powerhouse Electronic Arts, who said: "Our epiphany came when we realized it was harder to get our next
employee than to get our next customer. Talent attraction is a matter
of being a selling organization."

Attracting and retaining IT talent is a daunting cost, not just in money but even more so in the time and attention span of key IT leaders in the organization. Your technology choices may greatly help or hinder that effort, but that’s not a benefit or cost that’s likely to have high visibility during the process of adopting a particular technology portfolio.

The same things that make the friction-free marketplace an enterprise opportunity are also factors that make this a challenging time to find and keep good people. I actually made much the same point in an eWEEK article several years ago:

A crucial market is the one for good employees. The employment
relationship has begun to approach an almost theoretical level of pure
competition. Employees with e-mail and Internet access need not leave
their desks to research opportunities in other organizations—or even to
engage in part-time employment as consultants (or, for that matter, as
industrial spies), while continuing to draw full-time paychecks.

Employers shouldn’t fool themselves by looking at only the one-way
flow of salaries and benefits from company to worker, with labor coming
back in return. An employee is not merely a supplier of services and
knowledge but is also investing in a career and making a daily purchase
of life experience—paying for both with the invaluable coin of time.
Every employer must therefore re-recruit its workers on an almost
continuous basis, making the work environment not merely tolerable but
clearly superior to readily discoverable alternatives.

When you try to attract a developer who has skills that are in demand, look at the job you’re offering as it appears through that developer’s eyes. Imagine that developer as a
Formula 1 race driver who’s being asked to distill his own fuel, or as a building
architect being told that a job includes forging his own steel beams. That’s the image that
comes to mind when I think of skilled, costly IT talent continually
repeating the construction of non-value-adding elements of an
enterprise IT application and infrastructure portfolio.

IT professionals see uncertain personal prospects, creating intense pressure to maintain their technical proficiency and update their skills. Companies that don’t use their IT talent in career-developing ways will find critical positions hard to fill, delaying the execution of key projects.

Farther up the IT organization chart, an IBM survey conducted this summer found that CIOs shouldn’t wait to be asked for the strategic input that it’s critical for them to provide.

All of these are reasons to appreciate the leverage that’s offered
by the rich component library, the intrinsically breakage-resistant
architecture, and the infrastructure overhead reductions of the
Force.com platform. These are outstanding technologies, worthy of
admiration as existence proofs of ideas that have been offered as
ideals for decades
— but what makes them truly interesting is that their business benefits are relevant and substantial.

Published
October 4, 2007
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