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Digital Talent Is Not Only Technical Talent

By Carlos Lau - Kurios
Founder & CEO


By Carlos Lau | CEO and Co-Founder - Thu, 02/16/2023 - 09:00

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Companies need a digital workforce to deliver results from their digital strategy and to be competitive in this new era. Nevertheless, what executives often miss is that digital talent is not only technical. Companies also need digital business talent to deliver results. Importantly, this group is around 50% of the workforce of a digital company (or unit), according to global benchmarks, making it half of the digital talent gap problem.


The rate of digital transformation has accelerated at a record pace since the onset of the pandemic, providing fertile ground for digital solutions that are becoming the fastest-growing source of revenue for companies in the region.

In this context, companies are starting to realize that digital transformations are not about technology, they are about talent, which is very scarce and for which we have a war in the region. Indeed, in the last five years, we have seen a high demand for tech talent, software engineers, data science, DevOps, and others, due these reasons: 

  • Digital transformation: Traditional companies becoming digital companies or wanting to increase their digital revenue (up to 60-80% in some industries, such as banking).

  • Startups: A high percentage of these innovative companies are based on tech products for which they need tech talent. 

  • The war for digital talent: For the above reasons, the hiring marketplace has changed and companies are battling each other to get the right tech talent; thus, we are now in a scenario with high demand for talent and limited supply.

The Missing Piece: Digital Business Talent

Nevertheless, the majority of companies in the region are highly focused on hiring or developing technical talent, which is good, but not enough. Executives at companies are missing the fact that: 

  • Digital business talent is around 50% of most digital companies or areas, and without them, results would not be possible; and, 

  • It is also important that technical talent speaks the (digital) business language in order to generate better coordination with business peers, and an understanding of what business levers they will pull with their efforts. (In the same way, I would also argue that business people should learn to understand technical language, for the same purpose).

But what is digital business talent?

They are the other half of the equation. They are the part of the digital workforce who are involved in building the digital products, along with software engineers, product managers and designers, and the part of the workforce that are in the go-to-market or growth areas that are in charge of distributing the digital solutions. 

Digital business talent is around 50% of the problem, according to Kurios research and Glassdoor:

“Out of all the open positions at tech companies on Glassdoor today, just over half are tech roles (57 percent or almost 71,000 open jobs). The remaining 43 percent are non-tech roles, or almost 53,000 open jobs. As today’s tech giants have matured into large employers, their hiring base has diversified as well. Long gone are the days when all tech hiring was exclusively for software engineer and data scientist roles.”

Analyzing several tech and digital companies across the world, we have identified four buckets of talent, with varying degrees of business and technical depth. 

  • Software engineers and data scientists are digital technical talent who need a high technical ability to code digital solutions or analyze and leverage large sets of data. But it is also necessary that they have varying degrees of business acumen to interact with business people and to identify the most important business levers they can pull with their work.

  • On the other extreme you have the digital business talent: 

    • Product management and growth, who are in charge of building digital solutions and designing its growth strategy and distributing it. Those roles are on the business side and interact heavily with technical individuals to make things happen. This pool is around 10-12% in digital companies, according to our research.

    • In addition, companies have what we at Kurios call Digital Management. This is composed of all the teams in charge of business results (customer growth and retention, revenue, costs, ebitda), strategy and day-to-day execution and operations. Those can be leaders like general managers, category managers, directors of growth/sales/marketing and others; they can be product marketing, go-to-market, growth, strategy and operations, growth marketing, performance marketing, Conversion Optimization, Data Analytics (descriptive business intelligence); and they can also be SDRs and BDRs, digital sales (aAccount executives), and digital customer success and account management, among many other roles and titles.

These are the business roles of the digital age, and these roles also need to be savvy in varying degrees of technical depth to deliver results in a digital environment, or to work cross-functionally with their more technical counterparts; from designing experiments to uncovering what works and not, to analyzing digital OKRs, to preparing and presenting business cases to building a product feature or a new growth channel.

Indeed, at companies like Uber, as a growth and operations Manager, I remember using many low-code or no-code tools to build and test stuff, and then communicating what I really needed plus a business case to more technical teams, so that we could have something fully productized.

Source: KURIOS. Do not reproduce without permission.

Finally, how can your company source or prepare digital business talent?

There are various approaches, and they have similar patterns. Your company can hire, for which a company needs to create an attractive environment to work for; acquihire through startup acquisitions; or hire consultants or fractional digital workers.

Or your company can upskill current employees in existing Digital business roles or reskill company workers who show that they have the transferable competences and mindsets to succeed in a new digital role, and help them transition to the new role. 

This is the approach we at Kurios propose most often, because your current employees already understand your company and culture, and its nuances; and also because the war for digital talent makes it very challenging and expensive for companies to attract workers from other companies. Invest in your digital talent and they will take care of your business.

Photo by:   Carlos Lau

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