I’ve written a lot about IBM workforce development efforts over the past few months. My July 27 blog, How IBM is Helping Universities Develop 21st Century Workforces, specifically examined the company’s Academic Initiative. My October 11 blog, IBM’s Role in Creating Tomorrow’s Workforce, as well as in a more detailed report, I assessed the company’s broader approach to workforce development.
IBM’s workforce development efforts, however, extend well beyond helping universities and its own employees prepare for the careers of the future. The company’s National Roadmaps, and associated Innovation Roadmaps, help entire countries develop and jumpstart broad, national workforce development programs.
National Roadmaps (and their state, local and regional corollaries) are government-backed economic development plans that define specific development objectives and identify the requirements for achieving them.
Although government bodies can create their own roadmaps, IBM’s Governmental Programs office can help. This integrated corporate group draws on resources from across the company to help governments create and lay the foundations for achieving long-term economic and societal strategies.
These roadmaps, on which IBM has worked with more than 15 countries (including the U.S., U.K., India, Brazil and Australia), can be initiated as a means of addressing current or anticipated needs, as part of an integrated economic development strategy or, more tactically, as a means of attracting IBM and other technology companies to increase hiring in their countries.
The first step in preparing these roadmaps entails working with the government body to identify the country or region’s unique advantages, their primary development opportunities and their highest-payoff approaches for developing sustainable jobs. IBM then uses its Global Business Services’ Component Business Model to identify the region’s current assets, gaps, hotspots (in which investments will yield the greatest benefits) and key performance indicators (with which to measure and assess progress).
The next step is to reach agreement on three primary requirements for achieving the roadmap’s goals. These requirements are the:
- Talent, people and skills that will be required;
- Infrastructure, including the educational, IT and communications requirements; and
- Investment, to ensure the availability of funds to address the agreed upon talent and infrastructure development commitments.
An Innovation Roadmap is the necessary first step in any National Roadmap. It specifies the types of services that the country is aspiring to develop, the number of people that must be trained, the “services systems” that will be required to effectively and efficiently deliver services and the role that the government, IBM and other corporations and local universities will play in developing these service systems.
Services systems are the critical component of any effective service-based model. These systems consist of the combination of people, processes and technologies (either within individual, or across multiple organizations) for producing and delivering a service. It ensures that each service process is specifically defined, consistently performed and measurable.
This type of “scientific” service design ensures that each service instance (wherever, and by whomever it is performed) is consistent and that deviations can be immediately detected and addressed. Just as importantly, it allows each service to be continually evaluated and optimized to improve effectiveness and efficiency. This creates the potential for a type of continual improvement (something of a Moore’s Law of services) and for allowing individual countries to maintain comparative advantage relative to competitors with lower cost structures.
Where’s the Beef?
Interesting concept, but what keeps these Roadmaps from being just another academic study—a presentation to which all participants eagerly nod their heads and a nicely bound report that sits on the shelf to collect dust?
That is the subject of next week’s blog.