Mike DeMarco Headshot
Mike DeMarcoMarch 19, 2024
Topics: Talent Experience

Skills Intelligence Demystified: A Blueprint for HR Excellence

The emergence of skills intelligence marks a pivotal shift in how organizations approach talent acquisition, employee development, and succession planning. 

For hiring teams, the need to source and hire top talent before the competition is becoming increasingly difficult. For talent management teams, engaging, developing, and retaining talent can be the difference between solidifying a retention plan for critical roles or opening another position to fill with an external candidate. 

With skills intelligence, there is a new foundation that organizations can build upon that is rooted in data and machine learning to enhance decision-making. This AI-powered tool empowers teams to transcend traditional hiring and retention methods and, in turn, build teams that drive success in the digital age.

What is skills intelligence?

Skills intelligence is the ability for companies to understand what skills are necessary for an individual to be successful in their role, effectively identifying which skills are required, how to develop those skills, and how new skills can be acquired.

This layer of intelligence is emerging as the leading process organizations are looking toward to gain data-driven insights into the health of their workforce. This methodology is used to assess talent and to build stronger teams based on professional skillsets and abilities. 

How Does it Work? 

Skills intelligence goes beyond validating talent based on job title or through a role evaluation process to get a deeper understanding of what’s available in your company. It leverages the power of AI and automation to organize, catalog, and maintain this data in real time, resulting in actionable insights into how to address human capital needs. 

This process begins with learning the skills available on your teams, how those skills impact the day-to-day function of your business, and how to plan for the future by identifying emerging skills that need to be invested in through learning and development opportunities, or acquired externally if not available internally. 

Overall, skills intelligence provides organizations with a holistic data-driven vantage point to close knowledge gaps, and to support the long-term health of their organization. 

Why is skills intelligence important?

Skills intelligence is essential for organizations to gain impactful insights into their talent data to shape the growth and health of their institution. It’s engineered to quickly identify what skills already exist in your workforce and where potential skill gaps exist. 

It also unlocks insights into the skills candidates possess, offering a simple way to determine if an individual has the skill set required to close a previously identified skills gap within the business. Through this process, teams can cross-functionally align around which skills need to be acquired by adding talent with those abilities to their team. 

This methodology opens up the possibility of bringing in new talent with greater confidence. It also means that teams can be more agile, sourcing talent with the right abilities on a more granular level. This is especially true when it comes to emerging skill sets. 

With a better understanding of what skills are at play, your workforce can access personalized recommendations surrounding job matching and career pathing that’s tailored to their unique expertise. Skills Intelligence also provides a positive impact on current staff by identifying skills that can be augmented to meet new needs for the role they are already in.

In the end, it provides hiring teams a focused view into their top performers' abilities, which gives clarity to the areas an employee can focus on for career growth, and in turn raises employee retention by keeping them engaged.  

6 Reasons Why Skills Intelligence is Essential 

Skills intelligence is a critical element that allows HR leaders to gain a clear picture of where their talents’ strengths lie and what gaps need to be addressed. Let’s take a deeper dive into five reasons why skills intelligence is essential for the future: 

1. Identifies critical skills gaps  

Skills are ever-changing and always developing. The top skills that are necessary for success in a role today will not be the same skills needed in the future. As new skills, software, and tools emerge on the market, there is a critical need to organize this data and turn it into impactful insights. Being able to use AI to gain visibility into where skills live within your organization is necessary for a successful and strategic hiring plan that works in both the short- and long-term. 

2. Supports personalized career pathing 

It’s always better, and cheaper, to keep top talent than it is to find new talent. Knowing an employee’s skillset provides data on how the person is progressing professionally. 

When this data is combined with the power of AI, right-fit predictions for growth opportunities can be planned and realized. This information is extremely valuable for organizations to keep top talent progressing toward the company's future.

3. Unlocks a deeper understanding of your workforce

Organizations that want to find deeper insights into leveraging their skills data are faced with the daunting task of organizing and cataloging the skills that are currently being used. This task is extremely tedious, and manual without the help of technology.

Organizations often find themselves paralyzed at the proposition of needing to organize this data in a way to even gain actionable skill insights. The way to unlock a deeper understanding, and fully adopt a skills-intelligence approach is to use automation and AI as a central strategy to organize and maintain this information. 

4. Succession planning

Once hired, an employee is on a journey to harness, grow, and refine their talent through skills. Skills Intelligence provides the infrastructure to support talent throughout their entire career, especially during succession planning. 

To have a seamless succession plan in place means you are actively planning to protect critical roles within your organization to maintain business growth. When using skills intelligence as the foundation of your succession planning, you can identify critical skills gaps and tap into high-performing employees by highlighting well-defined growth opportunities that optimize their career trajectory with a higher probability of success. 

All of this provides employees with a hyper-personalized development and succession plan that ensures major business functions will continue even through the retirement or resignation of essential stakeholders.  

5. Reduce time to hire

Time to hire is a metric that hiring managers and recruiters are always trying to minimize. Through the power of skills intelligence, hiring teams now have an opportunity to use skills to unlock more granular information to assess if candidates are the right fit based on the skill set necessary to be successful in a given role. 

As a result, the talent with the best abilities moves on to the hiring manager, cutting back on the decision-making process by interviewing candidates who have the skills necessary to add value from day one. With a unified skills intelligence platform, this means selecting from talent inside and outside the organization. 

6. Reduction in total cost to hire

Time is money, and top talent only stays on the market for moments, not weeks. Having the intelligence to source, screen, and schedule candidates quickly gives hiring teams the competitive edge to fill roles with greater speed and accuracy. When using skills intelligence, organizations also cut back on employee churn by hiring the best-fit candidate for the role. 

Overall, an intelligent hiring process allows for greater results from more targeted hiring efforts, streamlining your spending and positively impacting your bottom line. 

How to Become a Skills-Forward Organization 

Large-scale change takes motivation to seek out a solution, the readiness to take action, and support to see the change through — all three of these need to come together to support your transition to a skills-forward organization. 

To support you on your skills intelligence journey, here are six practical steps you can take:

Scale and Automate Your Skills

The first step towards change is committing to the transformation journey and acknowledging the need to organize the skills within your organization. 

Once you identify the key skills that are necessary for the essential roles within your organization, it’s time to scale your skills intelligence. A clearly defined skills ontology is the necessary foundation that allows your organization to scale, automate, and find actionable insights for your teams. 

Related: Demystifying Skill Ontologies: Your Roadmap to Clarity

Tackle Change Management 

Tackling change management is a team effort. No one individual can roll out institutional change successfully. Accomplishing the transformation to a skills-forward organization begins with open communication with your partners and all necessary stakeholders. 

Implementing a successful skills intelligence framework begins with defining what goals you want to achieve, and seeking cross-functional alignment with team leaders like hiring managers, recruiters, and C-level executives. Tackling change management requires intention and consistency to maintain alignment between key stakeholders. Throughout the process of becoming a skills-forward organization, having a structured communication and training cadence to keep the organization educated is key. 

When companies have a technology partner to support change management, teams receive higher efficiencies by adopting the technology faster, but they also maximize the value of the investment by gaining organizational support. In the end, this is a team effort to build a battle-tested change management program. 

Implement Micro to Macro Changes

It’s always best to walk before you run, but it’s even better to crawl before you walk. This means starting with small wins to gain momentum and seeking out others in your company who also see the importance of skills intelligence. 

Start by looking for alliances within the talent acquisition team by rolling out the use of skills to find the best-fit talent for open roles. 

You can also ID a department in the organization that has a leader who will champion career movement and development. This will allow you to test skills intelligence within a department to show how it scales — all while fine-tuning your tool for wider enablement.

Prioritize the User Experience

To make the data from skill intelligence actionable, people must engage with the technology and the technology should be designed to engage with people. A human-centered software design is essential for ultimate adoption. 

Being that HR management affects multiple personas from candidates to hiring managers and talent acquisition specialists, the tools must be easily accessible and adaptable to meet the needs of each user.

This versatility to support numerous roles and responsibilities can be the difference between streamlining your transition to a skills-forward organization and falling back into your current processes. 

Boost Engagement and Adoption with Best Practices

Skills aren’t just used in the hiring process; they’re used throughout the employee lifecycle. Managing change, and adopting a skills-forward approach is a process that needs support from automation and AI to maximize the adoption and vitality of your skills strategy. 

Skills intelligence tools are the way to maintain the health of your organization in the day-to-day. When skills-focused software is adopted, it allows employees to track their professional development, set goals, and maintain a high level of engagement. 

Kickstart Your Transition to a Skills-Forward Organization

Skills Intelligence presents a new horizon of opportunities for organizations to approach hiring, career pathing, and succession planning by allowing HR leaders to make critical decisions based on data. By leveraging advanced analytics and the power of AI, businesses can streamline their recruitment and development processes while improving retention. 

With the right insights into skills, organizations can establish a future where every hire is a strategic investment in their collective success and not a shot in the dark. 

Take a deep dive into the power of skills intelligence by streaming Skills Day on demand right now.

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