What price digital talent?

Should your digital leader be paid more than your CEO? Demand for digital talent is outstripping supply. Firms are scaling up their digital teams to reflect digital’s growing impact on competitive advantage and performance. In the UK alone, over 750,000 new digital jobs will be created by 2020, according to O2. As firms hire, they typically look for outside talent as a way to evolve culture. Yet the pools they fish in are still relatively small (start-ups, agencies) or inaccessible (unicorns). Over time, this demand-supply imbalance will correct itself as universities shift emphasis and companies invest in digital training. But in the short-term, the cost of digital talent is increasing, and looks set to continue to do so. Software developers are seeing annual pay increases in excess of 20%, according to Emolument.com. At the top of the digital tree, Chief Digital Officers can expect even greater compensation growth. It takes years to establish a proven track record as a CDO, so supply is highly constrained. Those firms set on hiring world-class digital leadership will need to re-set their thinking on compensation. As one executive recently commented to me: ‘we have no problem recruiting the world’s best digital leaders….we simply pay them more than the CEO’.

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