Why Talent Is The Biggest Barrier To Scaling Technologies

4 min

From Financial, Professional, and Business services to Industrial and Engineering to HealthCare and Life Sciences, each of the industries we serve are under fire from a talent-based barrier as they look to digitise.

Alike with the rapid acceleration of innovation during wartime, the global pandemic has encouraged swift, top-down changes throughout industries. In addition, the excessive rate of digitalisation and transformation into automated and artificial technologies across industries has resulted in a problematic scaling of talent.

Yinuo Geng, research vice president at Gartner, commented:

“The ongoing push toward remote work and the acceleration of hiring plans in 2021 has exacerbated IT talent scarcity, especially for sourcing skills that enable cloud and edge, automation and continuous delivery”.

New research found that IT executives render this technological talent shortage the most significant adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies. This number was a mere 4% in 2020, which signifies how rapid the move towards digitisation has been.

James Dyson, CEO of Dyson technologies, reported that the issue of scaling talent was “Holding his company back”.

Scaling Technologies Across Industries

IT & Digital

IT executives cited talent availability as the primary adoption risk factor for the majority of IT automation technologies (75%) and nearly half of digital workplace technologies (41%).

Process-agnostic software, including RPA, LCAP, and AI, can be used in any organisation across multiple IT and business use cases. By 2024, process-agnostic software will be most in demand. A key enabler of the hyper-automation trend, process-agnostic software such as AI can reduce organisational operational costs by around 30%.

For example, by combining hyper-automation technologies with redesigned operational processes, these technologies can automate content ingestion, automating the process of digitalising and sorting paper records.

“Hyper Automation has shifted from an option to a condition of survival.” 

Said Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner.

“Organisations will require more IT and business process automation as they are forced to accelerate digital transformation plans in a post-COVID-19, digital-first world.”


According to Engineering UK, engineering companies need around 265,000 new employees every year until 2024 to meet the requirements of large scale projects, including EDF’s Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.

Recent conversations we had with Ali Gilani, Babcock’s Resourcing & People Analytics Director for the Marine and Nuclear sectors, explored problems that are causing a talent shortage in engineering, including enticing people to remote locations. 

Since our conversation, rapid digitisation during the pandemic has allowed some of these faraway roles to be fulfilled via remote, home working. However, further digitalisation is needed to facilitate this development.


As a result of the global pandemic, the Pharmaceutical Industry saw rapid and unprecedented growth in the race towards a vaccine. However, the challenge with scaling up new research into mRNA medicine is that it is a relatively new area, and therefore, there is a tiny pool of talent. 

There is now intense competition for these experts as well-funded pharmaceutical firms seek to bring them on board to develop new mRNA products. At Armstrong Craven, we worked with 3 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies on successful mRNA talent strategies.

You can read more about the lessons we learned from the pharmaceutical industry in the latest Armstrong Craven Review.

Overcoming The Talent Bottlenecks Of Scaling Technologies

Recent figures suggest that more than two million jobs in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and blockchain will remain unfilled by 2023 due to a bottleneck of talent that cannot progress into these in-demand roles, as they do not possess new and emerging technological skills.

Higher education institutions refresh their curriculum once every two to six years. Despite technical skills being needed in the workplace now, we could be waiting till 2025 to find an AI course on a College or University syllabus.

A recent McKinsey survey found that 60% of global executives expect that up to half of their organisation’s workforce will need retraining or replacing within five years. And more than one-third said their organisations are not prepared to address the skills gaps they anticipate.

As a result, businesses must change how they look at their talent supply. At Armstrong Craven, we have built a variety of people-intelligence services throughout our 30 years and recognise that adjusting the skills of a workforce requires commitment and attention from senior management.

Join our experts as they discuss the lessons they learned from overcoming talent bottlenecks in the Pharmaceutical Industry in the Armstrong Craven Review.

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If you want to learn a little more about what we do and how talent research can help you make better-informed business decisions, our team of talent research and consulting specialists are happy to help.