Talent acquisition, employee retention, company growth and development . . . as Thomas Cowan, Associate Director of the Center for Technology Management at Columbia University, states, these are not new challenges.

Organizations have always sought out solutions to expanding in the right ways at the right rate. These aspirations are no different for technology-driven sectors and their management teams.

So how do you attack a longstanding issue? You reconsider the solution and redefine your goals.

“When you get to the point with, what I call, ‘perfect information’ available,” explains Cowan, “there are so many tools that allow you to know what every environment is like.” The ability to become fully knowledgeable about what your target market wants is more prevalent than ever before—that’s true for practically every market you interact with.

What comes next then? With a wealth of hiring information at your fingertips, how do you both attract the new, incoming talent, as well as retain and utilize the talent you already have for the same growth and development purposes?

Cowan’s suggested answer: branding.

“What strikes me about the issue of talent management, talent acquisition, retention, etc.” he states, “is that it’s about saying to yourself ‘I need to create a brand of what my organization is like.’ Then I need to market that brand, and that’s what is hopefully going to attract and keep the right people.”

It’s become equally as important for CIOs and directors of IT alike to put on both their tech and overall business-centered thinking caps. It’s only natural that marketing and branding start working its way into the IT leadership realm as well.

“The other tenant,” adds Cowan, “is having to find ways to use technology in a strategic way to solve these problems…Asking how you can differentiate yourself through the strategic use of technology. It’s the combination of those two things.”

According to a recent analysis from Deloitte University, “Millennials have recently inched past the other generations to corner the largest share of the U.S. labor market…and a growing number now occupy senior positions.”

While it’s extremely important to understand and work with the fundamental disparities amid different generations of talent, dedicating time and effort towards tapping into this rapidly approaching workforce will benefit your organization. Especially when we’re talking about a generation born on technology. In which case, restructuring your talent management systems into a branded, technology-driven powerhouse definitely becomes the most sensible next step.

Overall, as Cowan puts it, “Figure out and start to create a brand that appeals to the workforce that you’re after, then strategically use technology to make people know that brand exists and to further the building of that brand.”


Thomas Cowan recently facilitated discussion groups on Talent Management and Workforce Innovation, as well as Adaptive IT, at the CIO Strategy Meeting in Los Angeles.

Be sure to join in on these conversations with your fellow peers at the upcoming Strategy Meetings on our 2017 calendar!