UK CIOs seeking communication skills over tech knowledge to drive digital transformation

New research has found that some of the country’s top CIOs prefer candidates with excellent communication skills rather than technical knowledge alone.

Nearly 75% of those surveyed by recruitment organisation Robert Half said that when it comes to major digital transformation projects, so-called ‘soft’ skills like communication are essential. This is compared to just over half (52%) who said that technical knowledge, qualifications and experience were most important.

Around 700 Chief Information Officers and leading digital executives were included in the survey, which aimed to take a closer look at the challenges facing organisations that are implementing digital transformation.

Not only are companies valuing skills such as communication now, but half of respondents also believed that demand for good communicators is likely to increase over the next three years. A further 30% were worried about a shortage, that they soon would struggle to find talented people with the communication skills needed to drive transformation projects forward.

Robert Half’s associate director Steve Sully echoed this concern, adding that not all employers have the ability to identify soft skills or understand their importance. He said:

“Finding candidates with the necessary skillset to lead and motivate a team, partner with other departments, support the adoption of technological change or plan for the future is a daunting and difficult task for many employers,”

These latest findings are in contrast to previous research by Robert Half, which questioned UK CFOs on their hiring plans with digital change projects in mind. That survey found the following skills were predicted to be most in-demand in the years to come:

  • Data analytics (42%)
  • Communication skills (40%)
  • Problem-solving (37%)
  • Strategic vision (34%)
  • Commercial and business acumen (33%)
  • IT (32%)

It may only be a temporary change, or one influenced by the mix of CIOs included in more recent surveys, but it seems that communication skills are becoming increasingly important – eclipsing specialised technical knowledge in some cases.

Why is communication so important for digital transformation?

While other ‘soft’ skills such as critical thinking, leadership, teamworking and self-motivation are highly transferable and valuable in almost all sectors, communication usually comes top of the list.

Organisations do of course need the coders, infrastructure engineers and content designers to complete digital transformation projects. However, communication is the glue that holds all of the separate parts of the project together. Leaders and communicators are the people who will coordinate individuals and teams, align goals and deliver the project. It also helps if the technical whizzes you employ have good communication skills, so that they can work with a broader team.

Facing a daunting digital change project?

You’ll need the right talent to help you drive it forward and deliver each phase to plan. SOLOS Recruitment Consultants, specialists in tech, digital and IT, can help.

Get in touch to see how we could help you find the missing pieces in your transformation project. If you have tech skills and are a great communicator, we could also find your dream role. Call us on 0115 9274400 or contact us online.


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