Staff poaching and skills shortages are at the top of an awful lot of agendas at the moment. A shortage of revelant skills, and the consequent inability to foster any organic growth, are more often than not given as the reason for the current spate of consolidations, acquisitions, and poaching of senior staff.
Senior staff in the dealer and distributor channel seem to have been hopping on and off the company carousel in a very spry fashion recently. Last week we saw Radius VP Keith Harris change seats to join Claris, and Julia Jones leave Interquad to join Azlan. IBM snapped up Data Sciences as it was preparing for flotation - and paying a #15 million to #20 million premium in the process - because it wants to beef up its share of the UK software services market quickly.
It's all rather a mess isn't it? One reason is recession - no one has been hiring staff in any great numbers for the last couple of years, they have been laying them off instead. People have been stuck in jobs which they felt were no longer a challenge to them but have been unable to see an exit route. Now other positions and other challenges are there for the taking and experienced people are on the move.
The industry also doesn't appear particularly adept at attracting new blood, despite the offer of more than competitive salaries and what's usually a reasonable location. And I've heard a number of dealers complaining recently about how difficult it is for them to find the right calibre of staff, no matter how big the amount of money is on the table. Customers needs have moved up a gear, and the fact that someone might have sold a few photocopiers in the past is no longer adequate preparation for selling today's diverse mix of PCs, minis, storage devices and so on, and then knowing what is needed to integrate them successfully.
I can't pretend to have any solutions, I can only point out that it is a problem that senior industry managers and pressure groups need to devote some serious thought to resolving. And though I'd hesitate to call it a crisis, this skills dilemma comes at a critical time - a time when just about every vendor of substance is talking a serious third-party game.
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