The Four Competencies Every IT Workforce Needs

Digital business demands technology staff skilled in new ways of working.

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The digital revolution is forcing the rapid transformation of IT departments and compelling them to do more than take care of infrastructure and basic services. Today’s IT organizations must be strategic partners with business leaders to help them execute digital strategies and capitalize on emerging technologies in order to generate entrepreneurial opportunities and disruptive ideas.

Despite their pivotal importance to digital transformation, many IT departments are simply not prepared for these new demands. According to a recent World Economic Forum report, IT skill shortages and training requirements are the key factors slowing down digital transformation.1 The talent gap in the IT workforce is not about a lack of specific technology skills; rather, it’s about being able to solve business problems and create new opportunities for technology-enabled businesses.

Many companies have failed at reskilling — the process of preparing people for new jobs and new roles — because they didn’t know the specific capabilities their employees needed to develop to fill the talent gap.2

We set out to understand what competencies are essential for IT professionals in the digital age, by interviewing senior technology leaders from a cross section of industries and studying a global telecommunications company based in Europe. (See “The Research.”) The research revealed that digital business demands four behavioral competencies — qualities that transcend technical proficiency to embrace interpersonal skills and a drive for continuous learning — that enable IT talent to meet current and future business needs.

1. Learn to manage role complexity.



1. For information on the role of IT in digital transformation, see G.C. Kane, D. Palmer, A.N. Phillips, et al., “Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Future,” MIT Sloan Management Review and Deliotte University Press, July 2016,; and “Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work,” white paper, World Economic Forum, Geneva, January 2019,

2. Our study is related to the reskilling process, since we focused on IT jobs that redefine skills/competencies for existing IT jobs/roles and develop/build new skills/competencies for transitioning to completely new jobs/roles; see also L. Weber, “Why Companies Are Failing at Reskilling,” The Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2019,

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