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Why E3, interactive entertainment, and games matter for recruiting

This week E3, the largest interactive entertainment trade show, is taking place in Los Angeles. If you’re not into gaming or other elements of interactive entertainment, you might not be interested E3. But if you recruit for IT or creative talent, you should be. And I would argue that everyone else should take interest too.

Why? Because interactive entertainment is a great example of how quickly things can change and how the boundaries of technology are constantly being pushed, which in turn pushes the boundaries of skills and innovation. And all of this originates with people.

There’s a great ad campaign running right now from Best Buy (which ironically enough is struggling to stay alive as a brick-and-mortar company because of technology) featuring some of the greatest inventors and innovators from the past few years.

Here’s one of the commercials, featuring the mobile innovator Ray Kurzweil.

While the names Ray Kurzweil, Neil Papworth, Kevin Systrom, Chris Barton, and Avery Wang might not be familiar to most people, their inventions have touched millions. If you’ve heard your phone speak to you, snapped a photo with a camera phone, sent a text message, or used applications like Shazam, Words With Friends, or Instagram, you have benefited from the talented people who developed these technologies. Companies that supply materials or sell products related to these individuals’ inventions have also benefited from their work. And it’s safe to say that their innovations have spawned ideas for many others.

The gaming aficionados gathered in Los Angeles this week are changing the landscape of technology and skills for all of us. Someone has already created a new game, a new technology, or a new piece of hardware that will change the way we play games or use the Internet. Or, more likely, someone will look at all that great stuff at a show like E3 and come up with tomorrow’s great invention.

New games and inventions alter the balance of skills and talent in the marketplace. It happens every day. Instead of taking years to change, many things change in a matter of months.

So what trade shows like E3 are happening in your industry? Trade shows are a good way to see some of the innovation that is coming. I get something different from each one I attend, but in all of them I can see where talent is going and gauge the pace of change.

For example, last month I wrote about Interop 2012 and the heavy emphasis on mobility. I was immediately struck by how many ways the move to mobile applications and mobile access has accelerated the pace of change in IT. And as always, I was reminded that being able to recruit effectively is crucial to staying competitive.

Think about your skill needs as if you were walking down the aisle of a trade show for your industry. What things are coming next that are going to require you to find employees with new skills? In what areas are you going to have to compete with other companies and other industries for talent? Where is your talent leaving faster than you can replace them and why?

As you mentally walk through the trade show aisles, go ahead and pick up that flashing yo-yo or that extra-large T-shirt that you’ll never wear again. But as you do, think about how you’ll find your next great innovator. For bonus points, think about how you would compete to hire that innovator if they had an offer from an interactive entertainment company with a big, shiny booth at a show like E3.


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