On this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks with Gustavo Gomez about how solving the IT skills gap starts internally.
Gustavo is CEO of Bizagi and an expert in intelligent automation and software engineering. Give the show and listen and let us know your thoughts!
Show Length: 29 minutes
Enjoy the podcast?
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast with William Tincup. Of course, comments are always welcome. Be sure to subscribe through your favorite platform.
Gustavo Gomez is an entrepreneur who loves solving problems. Equipped with a degree in Computer Science, Gustavo pursued a career in software engineering in Europe and Colombia. In 1989, he founded Bizagi, short for business agility, a digital processes transformation platformFollow Follow
This is RecruitingDaily’s recruiting live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition.
Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Gustavo on, from [inaudible 00:00:40] ,which he’ll explain what those is actually a combination of in just a second, and the topic for today is solving the IT skills gap starts internally, so there’s a bunch of stuff to unpack there and I can’t wait to get into it.
So, Gustavo, welcome. I’m happy you’re here. Do the audience a favor and both introduce yourself and Bizagi.
Good. Thank you, William, for having me here, William.
So, Bizagi stands for business agility and we are a company that produces a platform as a service for low code process automation. I’m the CEO and founder of Bizagi. I have been building this company with lots of talented people throughout the last 30 years.
I love it. A business agility is just genius and it’s turns out it’s never going to go away. Businesses are always going to be evolving and always need to be agile, so when we talk about the IT skills gap…
So, let’s just start with the IT skills gap. What you see and what you see in your customers and what you see in the market, where is the biggest gaps that you see right now?
Well, what we see and also from the investors’ community is that there is a forecasted shortage of software developers for the next 10, 20 to 30 years. Nobody really knows for how long it would last but everybody’s expecting the demand for IT development skills to outstrip supply, so this is going to affect many areas of the business, including the capability to deliver solutions, IT solutions, in a quickly and commercially viable fashion. So that’s the broader terrain that we see in the market
And in just one-on-one stuff but how did we get here? I mean, is it something that we just didn’t focus on it soon enough or with early education? Middle schools, high schools, colleges. Did we just not, as a country and maybe even as a world, did we just not see this soon enough to then start to create more talent?
That’s a very good question. I think we did see it coming but we didn’t expect it to happen that quickly.
Right. Moores law-
Moore’s law didn’t apply to talent.
No, well, the thing is, well, it’s fashionable to speak about the pandemic but I do believe that the pandemic even accelerated it further.
Yeah. Good point.
Anything changing structures in education curriculum, it takes time, so it was a combination of those factors. As it is software, it can move at incredible speed but this combined with the way that the education system works is difficult to keep up with that pace. That’s my personal opinion.
Yeah, I’m on your train with this one because I just think that the way that we’ve looked at a four-year bachelor’s degree isn’t in line with the way that we produce software and yeah, you got to, especially if you’re a full stack developer or something like that, you’ve got to learn C plus, you’ve got to learn certain things.
Like, I get it but the rapidity, the speed in which you do those things and maybe cutting out some of the other stuff to where you can get there faster, I think is probably something that we have to adjust over time is just like, we need to rethink high school and college education when it comes to tech, and skills in particular, or we’re not going to fill that gap. We’re just going to be constantly…
It’s the gaps like the debt, you know, the… If you’ve ever looked at the debt that America’s in, it’s just, the number keeps increasing minute by minute. It’s just increasing.
One of the things…
Okay, so now that we have an overview of what you think about the gap and how we got there, I love the idea of solving some of this internally because I think one of the things that I think companies don’t do a great enough job at is harvesting, and really putting time, money, and energy into training development and et cetera, so let’s get into that. Let’s talk a little bit about what you think companies should do to not just resolve it externally, because [inaudible 00:05:40] didn’t cover it, we’re going to try and do all those things, but you internally, what’s the playbook? What should they be doing?
Okay. Well, there is the obvious answer of saying invest more in training and internal education and internal development. However, I do believe that we need to combine that with a different approach to process digitization automation, the creation of enterprise apps that narrows the gap, or doesn’t necessarily involve such an expertise, such a deep expertise in order to be able to deliver those applications or workflow process automation solutions. So, we believe this is important. If you actually enable through connected technology individuals to be part of this process with as little technical knowledge as possible, then you have a powerful instrument to cover that gap.
Yeah, you can get more people involved, especially if they don’t have to actually know the depth of some of those things. You can bring more people to the table and more internal people, which gives you more talent, which means that you can possibly catch up to some of that speed.
Training and development and all of that stuff aside, do you feel like we should incentivize, internally, whether or not it’s comp benefits, perks, days off, money, whatever, do you feel like, “Okay, it’s one thing to then say, okay, there’s a thinner layer of talent application development, or at our application development, that we can get other people involved in.” So we can pull people from marketing or sales or finance or accounting. We can pull people.
Smart people can learn this thin layer and they can help us with that. Fantastic. And first of all, I love that idea. Second, then want to get your take on, okay, how do we motivate them to then do that? And on the thin layer but also even the deeper stuff, how do we motivate people to learn new things?
Well, first of all, I think that the benefits of enabling everybody in the organization to actually work together and create technological solutions that solve business problem is enormous. I simply don’t believe that we can continue working in an old fashioned way where business throws requirements over defense to IT, and-
… wait for weeks, months, or years for IT to deliver. That just doesn’t work any longer, and I think many companies have realized that. It’s just too slow. The outcome is not what we expect so it’s more that it’s a big challenge for organizations to work in a more real time, collaborative passion, but people want to do it. It’s just that the hurdles are really big.
One of the big hurdles, in my opinion, it’s the language. If you look at the business, they talk about service level for the customers, return on investment, and then you go to IT and they speak XML, HTML, so you need to bridge that language first.
We’re not talking about technology here. We’re talking about, how do you speak a common language within the organization? First, we at [inaudible 00:09:45], we believe that that language is the language of processes.
Describe anything in terms of processes. For example, you could say, “We need to generate this policy, this insurance policy, within two hours because that provides us a competitive advantage in the market.”
That’s a process language. You’re talking about SLAs and stuff like that, so unify the language first and then look for technology platforms that enable that real-time collaboration.
And when we’re talking about enterprise software, this is challenging because that platform, you need all the capabilities of enterprise software, scalability, robustness security, while at the same time it must be [inaudible 00:10:36] enough, easy enough for the business user to remain engaged. We don’t believe that you can expose the business user to a software development environment with a compiler and [inaudible 00:10:51] and stuff like that.
So, there are significant challenges there but we believe those can be overcome. Should it be incentivized? Well, I strongly believe so because the benefits are enormous. Enormous. So, that’s my take on that.
And then you can personalize those incentives to the person, right? So if somebody just wants Starbucks gift cards, great, if somebody wants days off, that’s great. Like, you can get into what drives people personally, and so you can create a personal plan, but I love, absolutely love this idea that you have of development of technology is everyone’s business. It’s everyone’s responsibility, and this is going to be off topic but it mirrors what I learned when I was programming an event over the summer around DEI.
I talked to a bunch of DEI leaders and one of the things that came as a common thread is they said, “Listen William, diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. If you think it’s going to be solved by Janet or Kevin or somebody in a corner or one person or this, that, or the other, yeah, it’s not. It’s got to be everyone’s responsibility.” And it really was astounding.
And again, I’m kind of having a little deja vu because in that moment I learned that, yeah, that makes sense. Diversity. If we’re actually going to move the needle and do the things that we need to do, it’s got to be everyone’s responsibility.
I agree with you as well.
And you’ve just now taken this to a place and said, “Yeah, if we want to catch up and we want to actually increase our skills and we want to get faster, and we want to be able to deploy and do the things that we wanted to, then the technology development or the development of technology has to be everyone’s responsibility.” Which leads us to silos, which we already kind of touched on because everything that you and I have grown up with is, you know, there’s a silo over here and a silo over here and a silo over there, and no one talks, or if they do it’s usually dysfunctional.
Who leads the charge to change the way that we do this? Because I believe… Like, if this were a manifesto, I’d sign it. I actually believe that technology development, if we make it everyone’s responsibility, it’s actually going to be fun because now everyone’s invested. They get their hands down in the dirt and it’s going to be fun. And yeah there’s a lot of learning and yeah there’ll be some hiccups along the way, but it’ll be fun. But who leads that charge?
Well, just mention diversity and saying that its everybody’s responsibility. So, I think it’s a combination of factors. The vision, enabling this within the organization must come from the leadership. Like, creating the right context for this to happen I do believe is top down.
However, for this to work, once the context has been set, must be bottom-up, so you must create the context for everybody to want to drive this, and it cannot be a command and control structure, which again, is a challenge. You still need the governance around this democratization of application or process automation because you still have the constraints of an enterprise; compliance, security, et cetera.
So, it is that combination of a clear vision, clear incentives, providing the right environment for this to happen, the people driving it by themselves, and then this layer of government that put the guard rails of people not damaging or doing something that can affect perhaps the securitor of the organization.
Right. You know, I advise a bunch of startups, technology startups in the HR and recruiting technology space, and a lot of them are two or three people so they’re very early in their development, so I want to ask you a question, if you were starting a company today, and I know you advise and you consult with a bunch of folk but those are folks who are probably a little bit more established, if we were starting this, if you and I were starting a business and we were going to get into the enterprise software game and whatever, and wherever that is, how would we start it correctly, to do this?
Again, tough question there, William. In my mind, the more lasting competitive differentiator of any company is the ability to have what I call customer-centric learning, and what that means is no matter how you start a company, probably your initial vision will be of the market, and you will need to adjust your vision to the realities of the market and the feedback of the market.
Hundred percent agree.
And so the first thing in my mind is, the right partner, someone or some people that are resolute enough to drive a vision that clearly is not obvious because if it was, somebody else would’ve done it, but at the same time have the flexibility of thinking through once the reality provides the feedback, adjust your approach.
So, being resolute is very different from being stubborn because stubborn people don’t take that feedback and adapt, so you need to that kind of resolute part first at the bottom of, and at the heart of what we are describing is learning because learning is you have an idea of something and then you are proven wrong and you move on with more knowledge. So, it is at the fundamentals that need to work on and encourage this.
Like, many companies publish errors, mistakes, and it’s a cultural thing, in my mind, because errors or mistakes are very good as long as you learn very quickly from them.
That’s right. And sometimes people fear failure but actually failure can get you there faster. You know, if you embrace it and celebrate it in some way, it’s like, “Okay, that was a failure. Great. What did we learn? Fantastic. Now let’s just not do that failure again.”
I love the customer-centric learning model. You know, I tell a lot of startups, I’m like, “Listen, you’re going to go with a hypothesis of who you are and who you serve and how you serve them.” And about 200 customers later, they’ll tell you who you are.
It’s similar to marriage, isn’t it.
Yeah, very similar. Very, very similar, which is a different podcast but absolutely similar because 13 years into my marriage, my wife’s like, “I had no idea that you like country music.” I’m like, “I grew up in Texas, of course I like country music.” Yeah. But, you know, that’s probably something that should have come up a little bit earlier.
What are the natural barriers to, not just this mindset but hunting for skills internally and developing those internally? What do you see in your clients, and just in the market in general, of like… What are the barriers that you see?
Well, you talk about the… Or, you just provided an example of really knowing your customers and the customers knowing you, and you need to know all your employees really deeply, so having that internal focus and understanding the skill gaps or strengths within your existing team is really important, and I believe that not many companies invest enough in that really, really deep understanding of these skill sets of their team members.
If you have that understanding and you have a clear vision of where do you want to go, you might not have necessarily the clear vision of how to get there because the goal is very lofty, involving everybody in technology, process automation, and application creation, is a very lofty goal, so you might not know the road there but if you have the vision and you understand the skillset gap and you create the right context, you can provide some guidance and let the people discover the way.
I think at the end, it’s a journey, and if you don’t have that empowerment at the heart of the program of the individuals, it won’t happen.
You know, it’s interesting because on one side I see leadership potentially having a mindset shift, like they’ve got to actually change their approach because we’ve used external talent. Like, “Okay, we need a full stack developer or whatever, a new UX person, let’s go cast out and bring in a new person.” And that’s kind of the way we’ve dealt with… You know.
It’s a lot of external talent, acquisition recruiting, et cetera, and you’re suggesting, yeah, you’re still going to do some of that. Fair enough. But it’s just going to become more competitive because there’s just not enough talent, and so you might want to rethink that strategy and look internally. And I love the way you’ve focused on strengths. I think it’s… And understanding employees, you know, for in a way of, “Okay, you have strengths, weaknesses. Fantastic. You have passions, interest, and there’s things you want to learn.”
Now, these are, I think, basic table stakes types of things that you can do with employees just to find out, “What do you want to grow? Like, what do you want to grow? And let’s see if we can make that fit.” And then put them on a plan. And I think you’re right, it’s a relentless pursuit of making sure that they just continue to grow.
And this it is an individual perk, so you don’t have to have everybody on the same level.
A hundred percent.
What you need is to be able to dial up and understand that there are different sets of individuals that will embrace these at a different level, but the important thing is for everybody to feel that they are capable of moving into this space.
Let me give you an example and-
… you will deduct my age because of an example but prior to Excel, if you wanted to calculate a bunch of numbers, the only way to do it was to have a developer next to you, and you would say, “Please put some code so that you will recalculate these numbers.” We would get a printout of the results of turning those numbers, and you would say, “Oh, I need to analyze these as well. Please go back, adapt the code and turn the numbers again.” Yep.
And then people came up with this spreadsheet paradigm with this, a model paradigm, you create this new model called the spreadsheet and then you empower people to do this by themselves. Yeah.
In order to get to that stage you had to make the software [inaudible 00:23:27] to use. You needed a lot of technology in the background but we got there. Of course, Excel didn’t replace all the software development in the world but they’d empower people to do a lot.
So, around [inaudible 00:23:41] automation, low code automation in general, is that, that is what we are seeing, how to provide a model where you actually don’t need to code that much. You just drag and drop stuff and then you are able to create some map or some workflow of some kind.
Now, in that journey, very similar to Excel, you had some basic users that just use it to recalculate their monthly expenses, and then you have some highly sophisticated users, and you need to cater for all these different levels of expertise but you are still empowering people.
Did I explain myself?
Oh, a hundred percent. I thought you were going to take me in the Lotus Notes there for a minute, or access database, and I was like, “Oh.” Got nightmares. “Wait a minute.”
As we roll out, Gustavo, I wanted to ask you a good success story, and it could be your own company and things that you’ve seen, and I’ll tell you one that happened at COVID, or, at the beginning of COVID.
One of the companies that I advise is a larger company but they decided not to lay off anybody, so they went to their investors, got more money, did the whole bit, but basically they said, “We’re not going to lay off anybody. We’re going to retool and redeploy people.” And the receptionist at the San Francisco office, they basically said, “What do you want to do? And here’s a number of pathways that you can pursue because we want to keep you on board.” And she picked customer success, and a year-and-a-half later she is flourishing at customer success. Not just good, great, at customer success, and that’s a wonderful story and it’s a cool story too because that might not have ever come up if we didn’t have COVID, or weren’t first forced into that conversation, I guess.
What have you seen, as your most latest or your latest or your favorite success story?
Well, from our customer base without-
Yeah, yeah, yeah, with no names. Yeah, yeah.
As every company does, we capture the success stories and the use cases of our customers. There is this specific one in, two I can think of, there is this specific one in a very, very large organization, like almost 600,000 employees, where the customer actually, when we were capturing the use case, literally said, “Now we have so many people with almost no technical expertise [inaudible 00:26:31].” That really pleased me personally because that was the vision we had when we started the company.
So, having the customers played out the back to you as a fact, the vision you created the company for is extremely [inaudible 00:26:49]. It is the story of empowering everybody to work together to achieve this goal.
And another one is in the executive recruit space in one of the top 10 companies, we went in and they deployed six processes within six months, including data entry, background checks, degree verification, typical stuff in a executive recruitment process, and as a consequence of this, they were able to offload to India or automate like 12,500 hours.
So, all of a sudden the people, expensive people that were knowledged workers, they were just not busy with mundane activities and they put the number of on it. They said that they reduce the manual data entry validation activities in 30%, and that really is an enormous amount of time to actually relocate those resources, or that time, to servicing the customer. So, that’s absolutely fantastic that yeah, those are [inaudible 00:28:06]-
Well, especially in that case it gives them time to then be strategic and think about innovation and R and D and think about other-
Other things, so it’s a wonderful thing.
Gustavo, thank you so much. This has been a wonderful topic. I absolutely love it and I’ve loved our conversation. Thank you for coming on-
Thank you very much-
… RecruitingDaily podcast.
… [inaudible 00:28:26].
All right, take care.
And thanks for everyone listening to RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.
You’ve been listening to the Recruiting live podcast by RecruitingDaily. Check out the latest industry podcasts, webinars, articles, and news, at RecruitingDaily.com.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.