Future of pay-for-skills

This series explores a discussion with IBM on future of pay-for-skills. The participants in this discussion were:


  • Jean Martin, Head of Product, Career Business, Mercer
  • Binny Rieder, VP Global Compensation and Recognition, IBM
  • Anshul Sheopuri, VP & CTO, Data and AI, IBM

What is next on the roadmap?

Going forward, IBM will continue to have its artificial intelligence (AI) tool run during the organization’s pay cycles. In fact, it envisions using AI beyond its annual salary cycle, where IBM intends on using this tool to look at skills in other pay programs.


For instance, in terms of career promotions for employees, the organization is evaluating how it can use AI. This technology can help managers make better decisions around career growth. Additionally, IBM wants to scale the current skills-based approach to compensation and find AI use cases in other programs as well.  


A second area the organization is focusing on is how it can get more crisp around skill. It entails substantial effort even on the part of IBM’s personnel in compensation; they have to keep abreast with evolving skills and also analyze a certain skill in greater depth.


IBM would also like to assess how it can incorporate soft-skills into compensation related decision making. In the world of skills and specialties, the soft-skill aspect requires further exploration. It holds potential to add a lot more sophistication on the skill side, which would then allow the organization to scale this program into other compensation areas.

Changes in employee and client needs

There have also been significant changes in terms of where employees are on their own skill development journeys, and what clients now seek. Five years ago, for example, employees wanted to be data scientists. At the time, clients too were demanding data scientists, where they would specify, “I want data scientists”. However, there is no current demand for this job role. Employee reskilling and upskilling will, therefore, remain ongoing processes. 


In the present scenario, clients are seeking personnel with Hadoop and Python knowhow. Hadoop is a big data related open-source framework while Python is a programming language. Client needs and employee needs have both, clearly, become so much more granular. And IBM’s pay philosophy intends to address these fast-evolving changes. It is going to require a significant shift as well, and over the short-term, this is one area that IBM is going to be excited about as it goes forward.

Our experts

Jean Martin
Jean Martin
Head of Product, Career Business, Mercer

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