Tag Archives: Skills

The App Economy – It’s Harder Than You Think!

Today as I was driving to a meeting up in the New York City area, there was a great piece on WNYC about the opportunities of the app economy. Given all the buzz about the mobile revolution, the abundance of apps on all the app stores, and the lack of mobile app skills, the two lead reporters for the New Tech City project on WNYC set out to see how easily they could learn to build a mobile app.

You may recall that last week I blogged about the newest results of the Tech Trends survey, which pointed out that:

  • Only 9% of all companies think they have all the Mobile skills they need
  • 25% of IT/LOB decision makers report a major Mobile skills gaps, with an additional 40% percent seeing moderate skills gaps
  • 77% of students and educators see major and/or moderate skills gaps

Given all the anecdotes about people developing their own apps in just days or hours, the imminent skills shortage that means there are jobs available and the prospect of striking it rich by developing a killer app – Tracey Samuelson and Stan Alcorn set out on the quest to develop mobile programming skills from scratch and then develop their own app.

As you might imagine (spoiler alert!) – it was a lot harder than they expected.  It’s a very well done piece of journalistic reporting – entitled “Learning How To Make A Smartphone App” so please be sure to check it out. This is the type of experiential reporting that is always valuable to break down some of the common myths that exist with new technology trends.  And it’s another example of strong journalism from public radio that is so refreshing compared to the non-stop blather of most talk radio these days!

So – while the app economy does present big opportunities – it requires the right skills to be successful. Which skills? Skills in mobile programming, skills in data integration, skills in user design and skills in business process redesign to take advantage of the mobile opportunity for companies large and small.

Mobile is Everywhere and Nowhere At The Same Time

One of the biggest challenges facing clients who are trying to become mobile enterprises is that mobile is everywhere – and nowhere. Mobile is everywhere – we all have mobile phones, there’s a constant buzz about mobile technology in the media, and across all industries leading companies are levering mobile to gain competitive advantage, to deepen their customer relationships and engagement, and improve their employee productivity in ways never before imaginable.

And yet – mobile is nowhere. It is nowhere in the sense that it’s very hard to find technical talent with good mobile skills.  These top skills are nowhere to be found!

At IBM, our Center for Applied Insights just recently completed our 2012 Tech Trends Study – and the findings have some great insights on mobile, cloud, social and analystics skill gaps.  As you might expect – I zoomed right to the mobile section. The report indicated that –

  • 49% of respondents have deployed Mobile
  • 69%  plan to increase their Mobile investment in the next two years, with 35% planning to increase it 10 percent or more
  • Over the next two years, 31% of respondents will start allowing BYOD – making it the norm for 76% of respondents

So clearly mobile is being embraced by clients rapidly – with 49% having already deployed projects, and 69% are planning to increase their investment in the next two years.  Mobile is certainly everywhere in this sense, and is a critical imperative for companies both large and small across all industries.

The problem is that mobile skills are nowhere.   Back to the TechTrends Report  and it reports that –

  • Only 9% of all companies think they have all the Mobile skills they need
  • 25% of IT/LOB decision makers report a major Mobile skills gaps, with an additional 40% percent seeing moderate skills gaps
  • 77% of students and educators see major and/or moderate skills gaps

So – given how important this is for our client and our partners – I recorded a brief video discussing about this issue and giving some advice to IT professionals and students around the world on how and where they might want to focus on their skill development for Mobile.

Finally – if you are interested in learning more about the challenges for mobile, social, cloud and security, below is a pretty cool infographic that lets you explore the trends and insights.

And as you might expect, given IBM’s focus on helping our client and partners solve these skills gaps, today IBM is announcing a whole range of new programs to help students and universities create and scale new courses around mobile, security, cloud and social IT skills.   The most exciting part of it all – we’re making our IBM Mobile Worklight development platform available for free classroom use by schools all around the world.  You can get it here!

Follow-on Thoughts – Our Creativity Dialogue and Liberal Arts Education

I’ve received lots of comments – mostly all in agreement – on my last post about creativity and skills….. and someone also pointed out this article on CNN that makes a similar argument.  It’s an Op-Ed piece by Michael S. Roth – who is a professor  at Wesleyan University.   Some of what he points out includes –

“A well-rounded education gave graduates more tools with which to solve problems, broader perspectives through which to see opportunities and a deeper capacity to build a more humane society.”

You might want to check it out….

Creativity?- Who Should You Hire?

As I work around the world with colleges and universities on how they can change their curriculum to both be more engaging to students and better develop them to be successful in the next decade – I’m frequently asked by students and parents what majors should be selected to give the best job opportunities.

Usually my answer goes like this “You should study what you are most interested in and along the way ensure you try to minor or get experience in some area that will be a good means to find a job. ”

At IBM we’ve been talking for two years now about the need to develop “T-shaped” students – students who are deep in an area of expertise, but also have broad skills in a range of areas.  A good example would be someone deep in engineering who has also taken some computer science and business courses, or someone deep in energy science who has some experience in public policy and IT networking.   Why?  Because the most challenging problems we face in building a Smarter Planet require solutions that are focused at the intersection of these fields –

  • SmartGrid deployments require the intersection of energy skills, IT skills, public policy around pricing and privacy, etc.
  • Smarter Healthcare requires a mix of analytics, business management, healthcare policy, and deep usage of technology to integrate medical records across systems and providers.
  • Smarter Cities projects bring together leaders in transportation, civic affairs, healthcare, safety and security, energy and even smarter water and waste management.  Each of these areas require experts to deploy new ways of integrating these systems to improve the quality of life in places like Rio, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Shanghai and even New York City.

IBM has been looking across many of our Smarter Planet projects all around the globe, and one of the distinguishing factors that sets the most successful projects apart from others is the degree of creative leadership that is in place on the project.  That’s right – creative leadership might be the trump factor.

Why?   I think it’ s because these projects require a strong vision of “what’s truly possible” in the face of so many obstacles.  Getting a network of city agencies, along with public and private leaders and stakeholders, to work together without being limited by the long list of obstacles and constraints takes strong creative leadership.

And how best to find this type of creative leadership?  New research that was published by Tony Golsby-Smith in Harvard Business Review says that companies and institutions should hire students from the Humanities.

As a graduate of Saint Anselm College – a liberal arts school known for it’s great work in the Humanities – I couldn’t agree more!

Be sure to check out the article – it outlines four of the key reasons that humanities graduates are great at solving very complex problems.