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Information management – a skills gap?

Marianne Kolding (IDC (International Data Corporation), London, UK)
Martin Sundblad (IDC (International Data Corporation), London, UK)
Jan Alexa (IDC (International Data Corporation), London, UK)
Merlin Stone ( St Mary’s University , Twickenham, London)
Eleni Aravopoulou ( St Mary’s University , Twickenham, London)
Geraint Evans ( St Mary’s University , Twickenham, London)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 25 October 2018

Issue publication date: 1 November 2018




The purpose of this paper is to explore very recent data about how large organizations are dealing with a shortage of information and communications technology (ICT) specialists, in terms of its implications for information management.


This paper is based on qualitative interview-based research with 11 large European companies, with an estimated ICT workforce of around 400,000 (about 14 per cent of ICT professionals in Europe), covering hiring, retention and upskilling of ICT staff, and expectations concerning graduates from European universities. These data are combined with International Data Corporation (IDC) analyst reports on the demand for different categories of ICT products and services, and data from the authors’ consulting work.


Larger organizations expect hiring to be a challenge, with strong competition for talent, whether from existing users or from the many rapidly digitalizing companies – digitalizing their organizations; their products and services; and their relationships with customer, suppliers and business partners. Upskilling and retraining workforces is seen by large organizations as a better approach than hiring, allowing them to create the right skills balance and retain their workers better. However, softer skills, such as communication and problem solving, are seen as just as important. ICT workers will benefit from a lifelong approach to learning, acquiring new skills and adapting existing skills. Many ICT companies have created academies for developing employee skills and certifications related to their own technologies, while the education sector has been working on creating curricula (alone or sometimes in partnerships with vendors) to improve graduate employability.

Research limitations/implications

The research is based on a small sample of large companies. The situation may be different in other companies and smaller organizations.

Practical implications

Organizations can cope with the skills shortage by anticipating and working with the market forces rather than trying to oppose them.

Social implications

ICT employees will show the way for employees in other sectors where skills are scarce, by demonstrating how to reinvent themselves as the skills needed change.


This paper demonstrates that employers have changed their expectations of universities. They expect less that graduates will be ICT-employment ready, and more that they will have the skills to make and keep themselves employment ready. This has significant implications for university course design.



Kolding, M., Sundblad, M., Alexa, J., Stone, M., Aravopoulou, E. and Evans, G. (2019), "Information management – a skills gap?", The Bottom Line, Vol. 31 No. 3/4, pp. 170-190.



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