An overwhelming majority of corporate CIOs consider soft skills to be in short supply, according to new research.

A report published this week by Xantus Consulting found that techies need to improve their ability to communicate with the rest of the organisation, with 96 per cent of CIOs saying their IT departments need to boost their relationship management skills.

“Most IT organisations need much stronger skills in their ‘front tier’, the part of their business that interfaces with the rest of the organisation”, the report quotes David Lister, group CIO at National Grid, as saying.

Business relationship management skills, leadership skills and communication skills top the list of capabilities hardest to find in IT departments, according to the report.

“These are what I call the ‘think’ skills: the ability to understand the impact an incident may have on the business, rather than to view it as a purely technology problem. People with these skills… can paint a clear picture of what we’re trying to achieve to non-technical people. They’re hard to find and expensive, but I would rather have a small number of people with these skills in my department than twice as many technicians”, Mike Bell, group IT director at Kingfisher, told Xantus.

business meeting soft skills in demand

Softer business skills are proving hard to find for IT bosses
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Along with in-demand soft skills, some technical competencies are proving hard to find for CIOs too.

IT strategy and architecture skills were deemed hard to find by 69 per cent of those surveyed, while business analysis skills were difficult to locate for 52 per cent of CIOs. Project delivery skills were hard to find for 39 per cent of IT chiefs.

Finding appropriate technical and business skills among new graduates has been a perennial problem for the IT industry.

The challenge of recruiting candidates with suitable skills doesn’t appear to be lessening, with 76 per cent of CIOs surveyed reporting difficulties finding the right type of graduates.