Consider your proposition for talent against cross-sector competition

In response to recent global turbulence, across different sectors and regions, organic growth strategies for companies have taken the form of ‘business building’.

This approach centres on creating something new, new products and services or new business models or distribution channels for which a company does not have. Essentially, widening their product/solution portfolio to seize emerging opportunities in a new market landscape.

In McKinsey research examining approximately 800 companies undergoing such growth strategy, five practices distinguish companies that exceed expectations from those that underperform.

Talent a potent determinant of successful growth.

Of the five, ‘Focus on Top Talent’ was the most potent determinant of success. It was reported companies who focused on recruiting and retaining top talent were 2.6x more likely to perform beyond expectations than those who did not, the largest determinant of success out of the five practices. Yet competition for talent has been a persistent obstruction for companies operating within technology focused markets, such as finance, life sciences etc. Paradoxically, tech talent isthe primary driver of success but simultaneously one of the most challenging endeavours, due to the cross-sector competition for talent.

Taking health tech companies as the example, not only are they vying for talent against similar companies within the broad life sciences sector, such as biotech and medtech companies, but also the extensive technology market. Other sectors that similarly incorporate technology and digital elements in their offering also rely on and have high demand for the same tech professionals highly sought out by the life sciences. Precisely, tech professionals with coding, software development and digital ability experienced in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and consumer engagement are highly in demand. As health tech companies compete for such talents amongst one another, they will also be competing cross-sector against companies from digitally mature sectors, such as finance, telecommunications, technology, consumer and energy.

To compete for talent, you need to consider the cross-sector competition.

Your proposition for talent needs to be considered cross-sector, modelling and directly countering employee incentives that successfully attract/retain tech experts to companies in other sectors. For example, when salary matching to attract talent, widen the scope of benchmark from your traditional life sciences companies to also Fintech and tech companies.

Have a tech-first mindset.

 Attracting talent is further complicated by lack of foresight from organisation by being too picky with their candidates and too precise in their criteria, looking for talent with both medical and technological capabilities. This adversely filters out candidates who may have the potential to grow into those capabilities and miss out on talent to competition. Companies should instead focus all efforts attracting/retaining talents with the necessary technological capabilities given the competition for talent with technological capability is fierce relative to medical. Through a targeted curriculum and a supportive environment, the necessary medical capabilities can be developed internally.

Don’t wait for your sector.

The challenge of fierce competition for attracting/retaining tech talent is further disadvantaged for those in digitally immature sectors. For example, the Life Sciences being one of the least digitally mature sectors, only above the non-profit/public sector. Relative to other more technologically and digitally mature sectors, the Life Sciences infrastructure in place to attract highly sought out tech experts may be less desirable. This evidences the point that you are not only competing for technology talent with players in your sector. Companies should be proactive and not passively wait for the promised digital upheaval projected for their sector.

ERWIN'S HOT TAKE: Tech talent is the primary driver of success but simultaneously one of the most challenging endeavours.

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