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Use Role IQ to accelerate value realization from digital transformation

By Cushing Anderson    |    April 02, 2019

Digital transformation drives business strategy. Technology has moved out from the IT department to the desktop, to tablets, to a phone in every pocket. As an organization senses an opportunity, it deploys a new approach, or improves an existing approach, using technology to help streamline, automate, discover or connect. These innovations are often incremental, sometimes disruptive, but always attempt to solve a business need. Digital transformation is ushering in a new era of digitally enabled customer-facing products, services and experiences in an environment of rapid change and uncertainty. Moreover, traditional businesses and their IT organizations now face competition and disruption from digital-native enterprises and start-ups that don't "play by the rules."

These trends put developing and deploying technology at the center of business growth for all companies, new and old. Trying to meet those needs using traditional project development and deployment is less and less effective for many IT organizations, leading to disjointed and ineffective IT initiatives. The notion of IT organizations working like digital start-ups and becoming product-focused has become a mantra for many CIOs. The shift from a project- to a product-driven organization is more than just a nomenclature change. It requires new development practices, organizational culture changes, customer intelligence and focus, empathy and, above all, new ways of thinking: product thinking and service mindset. Ultimately, it requires a team with well aligned IT roles and skill sets.

People and skills are critical to transformation success

People are the make-or-break element of a high performing IT organization. There is simply no replacement for people with the right skills, attitudes and traits. CIOs don't have the luxury of hiring a totally new roster of people with "the right stuff," so they will have to be creative in using a mix of hiring, mentoring and training, contractors and partners to create the needed mix of capabilities.

This puts a premium on the capabilities for specific IT professionals and an effective approach to identifying upskilling needs. IDC estimates that highly proficient teams responsible for core IT activities are almost 20% more productive than less proficient staff.

  • Highly proficient developers are nearly 90% more productive than the average performance of developers.

  • Organizations with highly proficient IT system administrators have 56% less unplanned server downtime.

  • On average, highly proficient IT professionals are 17% more productive than other IT professionals.

In fact, for cloud-related skills, the impact of high proficiency is very clear: In research on the performance of more than 500 teams across all cloud-related functions, we found that teams performing over the 75th percentile (top quarter of performance) typically had more than 85% of the team rated highly proficient in the relevant domain. Cloud teams that performed in the bottom quarter typically had 30% or less of the team rated highly proficient.

But selecting teams, or even hiring candidates sometimes seems like a guessing game. How do you know you have the right people to pull off the mission critical program? What is highly proficient?

Current options for selecting or assessing staff are insufficient: existing role libraries are outdated, test item libraries don't exist, certification paths may be too time consuming, company- or consultant-led role and skill definitions are burdensome. In addition, because organizations are adopting new technologies and transforming quickly, static role definitions can become outdated soon after completion. Even in robust learning management systems, there is generally no way to recognize when an employee has sufficient skills in an area and would be suitable to take on an important company initiative.

Pluralsight’s Role IQ can help create confidence in team composition

Role IQ allows CIO and IT managers to define specific roles by combining critical skills, and then provides a structured approach to evaluating the capability of employees (and candidates) against a large population of similar IT professionals (and against your own employees). This allows IT managers to identify team members with the right technical skill mix and proficiencies to create a most effective team.

More importantly, Role IQ can suggest next best learning options for employees that help them grow quickly and efficiently into the role they have, or the role they want. With more than 130 skill assessments available across a variety of technologies, CIOs and CTOs can determine the role proficiency of each person in their organization by designing custom roles or by leveraging the roles created by Pluralsight and its partners.  

I spoke recently with the director of worldwide support readiness at a large technology firm. In her company, the proficiency of the support organization is critical to maintaining and expanding a strong relationship with their clients. "To address the fast-paced change in technology requires good subject matter understanding," she told me. But, "there isn’t a certification for everything."

And she was clear: "Learning solutions need to be as cutting edge as our products and services."

She uses Role IQ to help determine the baseline capability of her entire team in networking and cloud technologies. In addition to defining the capability of her teams, she finds the training recommendations for staff particularly valuable. "It’s very important for my team to be able to say, 'I am expected to be at this level for this skill, and the path and next steps are clear." For her, Pluralsight Role IQ is several steps in the right direction.


IDC believes that digital strategy is often synonymous with business strategy. And digital approaches have become foundational to all parts of corporate strategy. New technologies and approaches must be incorporated into all corporate functions: from creating or delivering products and services to engaging with customers and suppliers, financial growth, or fulfilling social missions. Digital transformation has become a significant priority in every region and every industry around the world.

If technology is important to your business success, better IT team construction and greater overall team skills will lead to more rapid and greater value realization. Leverage tools like Role IQ that can help identify critical skills and consider a structured approach to assessment, team assignment and development.

The rapid pace of technology change isn’t going to get any slower.

About the author

Cushing Anderson is responsible for managing the research agenda, field research and custom research projects for IDC's IT Education and Certification research program. Mr. Anderson’s research coverage ranges from the value certification provides to IT professionals to the selection criteria used when selecting transformation training for the IT organization.

He conducts regular research on the views and experiences of IT professionals and IT education buyers. And he frequently evaluates the impact of various types of training and certification on IT organizational performance.