The growing talent gap and the power of process automation

Vaco MorganFranklin Blog - Process Automation

MorganFranklin and Vaco’s inaugural Trends in Transformation survey reveals what many of us already knew: business leaders—facing historic shortages in qualified talent—are prioritizing new technology systems and process automation as they plan their transformation strategies for 2022.

Eric Potter, Senior Manager of Strategy & Transformation at MorganFranklin, is the guest author for this article. 


According to EMSI’s The Demographic Drought report, the global workforce is shrinking. In the United States, the labor force participation rate has steadily declined since its all-time high of 67.1% in 2000; in 2022, the rate is expected to slide to just 61.6%. The retirement of the Baby Boomer generation is widely accepted as a key contributor to this decline and is expected to remain a factor in the shrinking workforce for at least the next decade. But it’s far from the only factor; declining birth rates, widespread demographic changes, and shifts in labor structures are also playing a role in the dwindling pool of workers.

Vaco MorganFranklin Blog - BLS data graphic

A smaller workforce, combined with the recent surge in job openings, presents a few major—and immediate—challenges to innovation, growth, and productivity for businesses. One key concern is the widening talent gap. 

At a glance: the talent crisis and how businesses are responding

For years, economists and demographers have projected a growing chasm between the demand for certain skills and occupations and the supply of professionals who have those skills. 

Recently, business leaders across industries have experienced this reality first-hand; in November 2021, there were 10.6 million job openings in the United States, but only 6.7 million total hires. At the same time, unemployment has declined among those professionals with the most in-demand skill sets, and voluntary employee resignations have skyrocketed. These trends have contributed to a hiring market that is saturated with motivated employers but light on active, qualified candidates. 

The demand for tech skills is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Technological innovation has been advancing steadily for years, but the coronavirus pandemic prompted widespread digital transformation in nearly all industries—virtually overnight. This has driven an even deeper imbalance between the skills companies need and the skills their team members and active candidates actually have. 

Read more: How do winning companies tackle the digital skills gap?

The data in our Trends in Transformation survey showed just how big of a challenge the talent gap has been (and continues to be) for business leaders across multiple industries. When asked about their biggest barriers to business strategy success in 2022, a staggering 49% of respondents said their biggest roadblock was a shortage of qualified resources. A further 36% said their top strategy for growth in 2022 was talent acquisition and employee training. 

Vaco MorganFranklin - Trends in Transformation 2022

Considering the results of our survey, it’s obvious that many organizations are feeling the strain of the talent gap as they plan for growth and transformation. That strain is felt not only in the challenges business leaders identify, but also in the innovations they embrace. 

It’s not surprising, for instance, to see a huge number of our survey participants listing new technology and process improvement as top priorities in their 2022 transformation plans. Nearly 50% of respondents said implementing new technology and robotic process automation (RPA) and automating processes were their top transformation priorities for 2022

The power of automation and business process redesign

In recent years, business leaders have become increasingly aware of the huge costs—in time, money and productivity—they incur by clinging to manual processes and legacy systems. After all, these systems often require repetitive, tedious busywork, carry a big risk of human error, and decrease time available for truly productive tasks.

As new technology has arisen to address these frustrations, we have seen clients across sectors set their sights on business process redesign. Where systems requiring manual intervention—legacy ERPs, for instance—once created bottlenecks for productivity, sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning projects have transformed businesses’ capacity for efficiency.

AI-powered tools and technologies can transform operational performance in several ways:

  • Minimize unnecessary service calls, manage supply levels, and detect issues before they impact an organization
  • Provide much-needed business insights through real time data retrieval and analysis
  • Revolutionize customer service through 24/7 support solutions
  • Improve employee satisfaction by automating routine tasks and streamlining project management

This is far from a comprehensive list; as AI and machine learning continue to evolve, the functions they serve—whether it’s business process management, time management, task management or data improvement—will evolve as well.  

Addressing the talent gap with future-focused technology resources

Vaco Trends in Transformation 2022 eBook
Download the Trends in Transformation report today.

The business leaders who participated in MorganFranklin’s inaugural Trends in Transformation survey seem to recognize the power of enhancing automation in their companies—to gain a competitive advantage now before these upgrades become an imperative later.

In a labor market where demand far outstrips available talent, this understanding is invaluable. 

Automated processes, coupled with today’s powerful data analytics tools, can allow organizations to increase productivity and do more with the smaller number of workers on their payrolls. 

MorganFranklin Consulting’s Master Data Management Process

To harness the power of the data created by automated processes, MorganFranklin Consulting, a Vaco company, helps leading firms capture and leverage the data available to them through our multi-step, master data management (MDM) process.  

First, organizations have to centralize their data and break down information silos, replacing any outdated, inconsistent data that is housed in disparate systems. This step opens the door to the creation of automated processes that collect and standardize data so it can be transformed into actionable intelligence.  

Second, organizations should ensure that all data is as clean as possible and be diligent in managing how their data is collected, stored, altered or updated. While this step may sound simple on the page, it is surprisingly easy to corrupt huge swathes of valuable data without a detailed MDM process guiding the project.

Third, companies should take inventory of all the data points they actually need. Take asset management, for example. With asset management data, it’s important to know when the asset was purchased, what kind of warranty it carries, etc. However, you need a rich, comprehensive dataset to provide meaningful operational value—think details like asset location, it’s current use, it’s current condition or state of functionality, and so on. 

This is where the implementation of automated systems and processes, coupled with carefully managed data analytics, can be truly transformative, allowing organizations to weather the talent shortage while increasing productivity, efficiency and data quality.  

Learn more about digital transformation solutions with MorganFranklin Consulting. 

Searching for powerful global talent solutions? Vaco is with you all the way.


Eric Potter - Strategy and Transformation at MorganFranklin Consulting

Learn more about Eric Potter of MorganFranklin Consulting.


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