Insights Article

3 Critical Blockers to Transformation Success

(and How to Overcome Them)

After decades in the technology industry, I’ve learned that digital transformation isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a matter of survival for most organizations. But more than 60% of digital transformation efforts fail. It’s not faulty technology that does them in. What usually happens is that organizations consistently stumble over the same few blockers. 


The good news is, these blockers are entirely avoidable. We’ve experienced our share of setbacks and successes, and we’re passionate about helping others navigate this complex landscape. Let’s break down these blockers and chart a course for more consistent digital transformation success.

Blocker 1: Lack of a Clear North Star Outcome

Many organizations dive into digital transformation without a clear destination. They get lost in a sea of technical requirements and deliverables, losing sight of the “why” behind their efforts. It’s like setting sail without a compass—you’re moving, but are you really getting anywhere?


A clearly defined, measurable outcome—a North Star—is essential for aligning teams, focusing resources, and achieving success. This North Star should be:

    • Tangible and measurable
    • Aligned with broader business goals
    • Understood and embraced by all key stakeholders


For instance, when we worked with a large federal agency, the North Star was crystal clear: replace a legacy system that posed significant cybersecurity risks and hindered modernization. With one of our large financial services clients, the goal was to close five specific FDIC audit gaps that were stifling growth. In both cases, having a clear North Star provided the focus and direction needed to drive transformation.


Once defined, your North Star outcome becomes the foundation of your transformation efforts, guiding all organizational communication, setting a clear and unifying expectation across every level of the organization. 


Without a North Star, projects may seem successful on paper, but fail to deliver meaningful business impact, and stakeholders become disillusioned as they struggle to see the value of their investments. This misalignment can create a ripple effect, causing future transformation initiatives to be met with skepticism or resistance. Moreover, without a clear North Star, you’re more susceptible to “scope creep” and endless customizations that deviate from your core objectives.


How to Overcome It: 

The first step is to gather your key stakeholders for a facilitated session to unearth the fundamental “why” behind your transformation efforts. Consider enlisting a neutral third-party facilitator to lead this discussion. An external perspective can help mitigate internal biases and foster more open, honest dialogue.


Begin by creating a secure environment where participants feel safe to voice their thoughts candidly. This trust-building exercise is crucial before diving into the tough questions. Once you’ve established this foundation, probe deeper: What keeps you up at night? What would make this investment a game-changer for your organization?


As you refine your ideas, continuously challenge them with questions like “So what?” and “Who cares?” This process helps distill your North Star into a clear, impactful one-sentence statement. Remember, this exercise requires skill and experience to navigate effectively. If the prospect seems daunting given the personalities in your organization, don’t hesitate to seek expert help.


Your North Star should be so clear and compelling that everyone from the C-suite to the front lines can articulate it. In fact, it should be so simple that you could explain the business outcome to your partner at home, without any prior IT knowledge. Remember, if your outcome sounds like “implement XYZ software,” you’re still lost at sea. The clearer and more relatable your North Star, the more effectively it will guide your transformation journey.

Blocker 2: Underestimating the Human Element

It’s easy to get seduced by the allure of new technology, but remember: technology alone doesn’t produce outcomes—people do. If you don’t invest in change management, training, and driving user adoption, your transformation efforts will fall flat.


Think about your smartphone. What percentage of its features do you actually use? Most people only scratch the surface. The same is true for enterprise technology. 


Without proper communication and enablement, low adoption rates will undermine the entire transformation effort, regardless of how cutting-edge your solution is. You may find pockets of resistance throughout the organization, with employees reverting to old processes or creating workarounds. 


This not only diminishes the return on your technology investment but can also lead to deteriorating customer and employee experiences, putting your professional credibility on the line. Once you lose momentum, it’s incredibly difficult to regain. Remember, if you lose people from the outset, it’s an uphill battle to turn things around. While technology can often be fixed, poor communication isn’t so easily mended.


How to Overcome It:

Start by identifying key stakeholders early in the project and understanding their unique needs. Then, launch targeted, multi-channel communications tailored to different audiences. Focus on explaining why the change is happening, what’s in it for them personally, and how it will benefit the organization. Use a variety of formats like town halls, email campaigns, and open house events to create awareness and drive adoption throughout the project lifecycle.


At one federal agency, we created over 450 pieces of communication in 18 months across various projects. This level of engagement was crucial for driving adoption and ultimately achieving the desired outcomes. They reached 80% adoption of their self-service portal in ServiceNow.


But you can’t just talk at people—you have to engage them. Create feedback loops that make employees feel heard. Host “innovation jams” where staff can brainstorm ways to leverage the new technology. And remember, training isn’t a one-and-done deal. Create a continuous learning environment with refresher courses, peer-to-peer coaching, and easily accessible resources. Your goal is to make the new way of working so intuitive and beneficial that going back to the old way feels unthinkable.

Blocker 3: The ‘Project Completion’ Mindset

It’s tempting to draw up a finish line as soon as you start a transformation project. But digital transformation is an ongoing journey of evolution and improvement. If you don’t plan for continuous change and innovation, you’ll quickly lose momentum and fall behind.


Imagine a train that’s been stuck in one place for years. You invest enormous effort to get it moving again, only to immediately cut the fuel supply once it starts rolling. That’s what happens when organizations view transformation as a one-time project rather than an ongoing capability.


Without the right mindset, you risk falling into the “implement and forget” trap. Initial gains may quickly plateau or even regress as the organization fails to keep pace with evolving needs and technologies. This stagnation can lead to a widening gap between your capabilities and market demands. You may find yourself in a cycle of large, disruptive overhauls every few years, rather than benefiting from continuous, manageable improvements.


How to Overcome It:

Start by establishing a “transformation taskforce”—a cross-functional team charged with keeping the momentum going long after the initial project wraps up. Empower them with resources and executive support to continually identify and implement improvements.  Ensure that you have the appropriate leadership, architecture, development, and communications capabilities budgeted into your O&M function. If not, it will feel like the momentum has slowed or stopped, in which case, we have lost credibility, and it is hard to get it back.


Next, bake adaptability into your infrastructure. This might mean adopting modular systems that can be easily updated or creating APIs that allow for seamless integration of new technologies. The goal is to build a flexible foundation that can evolve with your needs.


Finally, shift your budgeting mindset. Instead of allocating all your resources upfront, create an “innovation fund” for ongoing enhancements. This sends a powerful message that transformation is a journey, not a destination. It also allows you to quickly capitalize on new opportunities or address emerging challenges without getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

The Path Forward

As you embark on or continue your transformation journey, keep these key principles in mind: start with a clear, measurable North Star outcome. Invest heavily in the human side of change. And build for continuous evolution, not one-time implementation.


Digital transformation is challenging, but with the right approach, it’s also incredibly rewarding. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can position your organization to thrive in the digital age. The journey may be complex, but with a clear vision, a focus on people, and a commitment to ongoing innovation, you can navigate the path to digital transformation success.

Insights Article

Hiring for EQ

How—and why—we prioritize EQ when we hire, for extraordinary results

Years ago, we had an epiphany in the way we hire people at Intact. 

This epiphany was born out of big shifts we made to our business: shifts from focusing on short-term project delivery to driving long-term customer outcomes, and the realization that the implementation of software is just the beginning of a customer’s outcome journey.

We were building a company focused on customer success, and in order to do this effectively, we knew we had to prioritize hiring for, and training in, emotional intelligence.

In IT projects, the focus is often solely on technical expertise and much less on the emotional intelligence and behaviors of a consultant or developer. At Intact, we believe that the balance between EQ and IQ is critical. Ensuring a client feels seen and heard, understanding the pressures they face, and solving their problems—all essential ingredients of success—require staff with high EQ.

Ten years ago, we decided to add a powerful Managed Service offering to our business model to drive long-term outcomes and customer success. Because these resources did not readily exist in our industry, we chose to build our own recruiting and training program to create our own supply of talent. From that experience, we have built a highly successful workforce development program—one that attracts the best of the best, from all over the country.

A rigorous EQ interview

Our need, and subsequent learning, led to us building a unique hiring process that balances EQ needs along with traditional credentials.

This process begins with an interview that assesses key EQ attributes: situational awareness, empathy, resilience, and a growth mindset. Unlike traditional interviews, we shift the initial focus away from background and work experience. Those indicators have always felt less predictive of success in the job, anyway.

Instead, we drew on principles from Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow and Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence and worked closely with a behavioral psychologist to shape our interview questions. This was around the time that Heineken aired The Candidate, its search for an employee that involved the interviewer faking a heart attack in the room to see how candidates responded. While no one in our interviews fakes heart attacks, we draw on a similar principle: we’re looking for situational awareness and a bias to action for helping others. 

Some sample questions from the interview include:

  • “When was the last time you unintentionally offended someone?” This assesses self-awareness and willingness to take responsibility and apologize. If people can’t own up to their mistakes, they can’t learn and grow.
  • “Tell me about a time when you sensed something was bothering a peer—what did you do about it?” This evaluates proactive empathy and ability to read and respond to others’ emotions. It’s essential for putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes.
  • What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever experienced?” This gauges resilience and ability to stay composed under pressure, important for client-facing roles. 

Beyond technical skills

Candidates who pass the interview enter an intensive, paid, 8-12 week training program. Each cohort is about 20 people, and the curriculum they experience includes modules on technical capabilities, like Intact’s delivery model and products, IT concepts, and ServiceNow training, as well as broader skills training, like consulting 101 and communication.

In the curriculum, there’s also a dedicated EQ training module led by a behavioral expert. The topics she covers with the cohort include active listening, emotional regulation, and the role of empathy in business. We teach this because we believe it’s both essential for success in delivery of client work and also for building a company where people are cared for. 

The results: A high-performing, people-centric team

After the training, candidates “graduate” to support federal and commercial customers as full-time technical consultants—the backbone of Intact’s managed services offering. We have a 95% graduation rate from the program, a 95% first-time pass rate for ServiceNow CSA certification (vs. 34% industry average), and a 90%+ retention rate over the last four years. 

By prioritizing people skills in hiring and training, we have built a team uniquely equipped to navigate the human challenges of sustained digital evolution. We empower our team to be sponges, to learn and grow, and to inspire others.

Despite rapid modern enhancements, technology does not deploy itself. People deploy technology; you can’t have great technology without great people. It’s time for the industry to recognize this and prioritize putting people first.

At Intact, we’re not afraid to be different, and we love to share what we’ve learned. We hire differently, train differently, and work differently from your typical IT consultant. This is how we have built an award-winning, high-growth, human-centric company that delivers for our clients.

Insights Article

Why I came back to consulting after 10 years

Joining Intact after a decade on a sailboat

Brian Liddy
Project Manager
July 8, 2024
July 8, 2024

Two decades ago, it seemed I had every defining feature of success in corporate America: I worked at a large and successful consulting company; I had helped grow it to more than five times its size over the course of my 12-year tenure; I had learned a lot about IT service management; and I was on track to be made a partner. 


But I was deeply unhappy.


The long hours, constant travel, and relentless pursuit of revenue and chargeability became suffocating. We were at the mercy of what felt like arbitrary numbers targets—and the bottom 10% of performers, as relative to these targets, were cycled out of the organization constantly. This resulted in continuous elimination of colleagues I was close to, mentors I admired, and mentees I cared deeply about regardless of whether they had been high performers the year before or missed a sales quota by 1%. The fear of missing these targets created a high-stress environment. You either got promoted, or you got the boot, and there was little room in between to enjoy or thrive.


It was this industry-wide focus on profits over people that eventually burned me out. After 12 years, and much to the surprise of some of my colleagues, I quit.


Taking time off

I have a wide variety of interests and hobbies: I love living on the water, I love theater, I love traveling (for pleasure). I had taken sabbaticals before—sometimes three months, sometimes as long as six months—to pursue many of these interests. The pace of work required these kinds of breaks. I knew that this next break would be different and longer, but I hadn’t yet realized just how long it would be.


I became a sailboat charter captain. I taught sailing and pursued a passion for being on the water every day. I felt like the luckiest person in the world, getting to do something I loved every day and make a living off of it. Two years stretched into three, and before I knew it, this chapter of my life lasted for over 10 years. It was 10 years of recovery and repair, and I have endless gratitude for the opportunity to have done it.


Planning for the next chapter 

About 10 years into my life on the water, I began to feel the itch to return. But I promised myself that if I also returned to consulting, it would have to be for a very different kind of company: one that allowed me to work remotely most of the time and one that approached people, work, and company culture in a radically new way.


I found Intact at the most perfect moment possible.


At Intact, my interests outside of work and my desire to contribute to a valued-based workplace were viewed as assets—not liabilities. This was made clear to me right at the outset, in my early hiring conversations with the leadership team. CEO Jesse White and others impressed upon me clearly that at Intact, they prioritize people above everything else. Customer success is the primary KPI, over revenue and profits, and “do the right thing for the customer” feels emblazoned in the company’s collective consciousness. It creates a culture that is far more humane. And it also delivers excellent results.


The Intact way

Coming to work every day is a deeply affirming experience. The Intact team has each other’s back, and we consistently strive toward doing the right thing and aligning with our core values. 


In situations where we are navigating scope creep, for example, a traditional consulting firm may evaluate me by my ability to strictly stick to a contract or to maximize contract profitability. The room for error is slim, and the consequences are severe. At Intact, however, we navigate those situations very differently. We ask: is this the right thing to do for the customer? Is this going to be valuable and impactful for them? While we still take into account costs and resources, we understand that sometimes the most effective solutions require a more flexible approach.


And we’re finding that this approach is working. By prioritizing customer success over profitability, we are prioritizing excellent results and rapid growth. This is readily apparent to customers—which is one of the many reasons why they love working with us. Shared incentives for success deepens trust and relationships in tangible and intangible ways. I am available to my customers whenever they need me, without worrying about profitability, scope creep, and how the company may penalize me for not delivering efficiently toward its profits. 


An ongoing voyage

My return to the consulting world has been joyful and meaningful. I am proud of the work I do every day. I feel a part of something bigger than myself, something of consequence, something I believe in, and something that I am heartened to see is growing. It’s also something that the rest of the consulting industry is taking note of.


I like to believe that there are many parallels between my chapter sailing and my current chapter at Intact. By living our values and commitment to customers every day at Intact, we’re charting a course through new waters, putting people over profits and relationships over metrics. And I get to be a part of this adventure from my home near the Gulf of Mexico, just five minutes from Mobile Bay. It is a life of fulfillment that I did not think I’d find in this profession and one for which I am full of gratitude.

Insights Article

Intact Technology Earns Great Place to Work Certification™

95% of employees stated Intact is a great place to work, well above the 57% national average

Reston, VA, April 15, 2024 — Intact Technology, Inc., a ServiceNow Elite Partner and US Federal Partner of the Year, is proud to be Certified™ by Great Place To Work®. The prestigious award is based entirely on what current employees say about their experience working at Intact. This year, 95% of employees said Intact is a great place to work – 38 percentage points higher than the average U.S. company. 


Great Place To Work® is the global authority on workplace culture, employee experience, and the leadership behaviors proven to deliver market-leading revenue, employee retention and increased innovation. 

“Great Place To Work Certification is a highly coveted achievement that requires consistent and intentional dedication to the overall employee experience,” says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, the Vice President of Global Recognition at Great Place To Work. “By successfully earning this recognition, it is evident that Intact Technology stands out as one of the top companies to work for, providing a great workplace environment for its employees.” 

Intact’s core values include ‘Positivity,’ ‘Empathy,’ ‘Doing the Right Thing,’ and ‘Having a Growth Mindset.’ The company, which is also a seven-time Washington Post Top Workplaces winner, puts an emphasis on the mindfulness of its workers, ending each week with a guided meditation session and hosting lunches with licensed counselors to promote confidence and openness. With employees representing from more than 56 countries of origin, Intact seeks out emotionally intelligent candidates with a growth mindset and a voracious appetite to learn. Intact has an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) of 62 compared to the industry average of 42, a 94% CEO approval rating via Glassdoor, and a 4.5/5-star Glassdoor rating.  

“It is an honor to become Great Place to Work-Certified™, and we couldn’t be prouder of the culture we’ve built,” said Micaela Beaudette, Chief People Officer, Intact. “It’s a culture where our core values, employee collaboration, well-being, and work-life-balance are at the center of every decision we make. When our employees are supported, they provide the same level of service to drive meaningful outcomes for our customers and partners.” 

According to Great Place To Work research, job seekers are 4.5 times more likely to find a great boss at a Certified great workplace. Additionally, employees at Certified workplaces are 93% more likely to look forward to coming to work, and are twice as likely to be paid fairly, earn a fair share of the company’s profits and have a fair chance at promotion. Looking to grow your career at a company that puts its people first? Visit Intact’s careers page at 


About Intact Technology 

Intact Technology is a different kind of ServiceNow consultant. Our business model cuts failure out of the equation—unlocking sustained digital evolution. As the ServiceNow U.S. Federal Partner of the Year, Intact is committed to making consulting simpler, more efficient, and risk-free for the best value on the market. For more information, visit  

Copyright © 2024 Intact Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. 



Intact Technology, Inc.    


About Great Place to Work Certification™ 

Great Place To Work® Certification is the most definitive “employer-of-choice” recognition that companies aspire to achieve. It is the only recognition based entirely on what employees report about their workplace experience – specifically, how consistently they experience a high-trust workplace. Great Place to Work Certification is recognized worldwide by employees and employers alike and is the global benchmark for identifying and recognizing outstanding employee experience. Every year, more than 10,000 companies across 60 countries apply to get Great Place To Work-Certified.  


About Great Place To Work® 

As the global authority on workplace culture, Great Place To Work® brings 30 years of groundbreaking research and data to help every place become a great place to work for all. Their proprietary platform and For All™ Model helps companies evaluate the experience of every employee, with exemplary workplaces becoming Great Place To Work Certified™ or receiving recognition on a coveted Best Workplaces™ List.  

Learn more at and follow Great Place To Work on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Insights Article

The Richmond Times-Dispatch Names Intact Technology A 2024 Top Workplace

Enterprise Service Management Leader Intact Recognized for its Powerful Emphasis on Employee Well-Being

Richmond, VA, May 15, 2024 Intact Technology, Inc., a ServiceNow Elite Partner and US Federal Partner of the Year, announces it has been named one of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s 2024 Top Workplaces in the Richmond, Virginia area. 


Selection is based solely on employee feedback gathered through an anonymous third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC, which measured several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection. This year’s honorees include government contractors, real estate firms, consulting groups, and tech companies.  


“I am thrilled to join our Intact employees in celebrating our Richmond Times-Dispatch 2024 Top Workplace award,” said Micaela Beaudette, CPO, Intact. “This recognition showcases Intact’s devotion to the highest standards in business along with our commitment to our local Richmond community. We love the Top Workplace awards because it is 100% based on employee feedback, demonstrating our unique culture and dedication to our core values.” 


Intact, which is also a seven-time Washington Post Top Workplaces winner and Certified™ by Great Place To Work®, puts an emphasis on the mindfulness of its workers, ending each week with a guided meditation session and hosting lunches with licensed counselors to promote confidence and openness. With employees representing from more than 56 countries of origin, Intact seeks out emotionally intelligent candidates with a growth mindset and a voracious appetite to learn. Intact has an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) of 62 compared to the industry average of 42, a 94% CEO approval rating via Glassdoor, and a 4.5/5-star Glassdoor rating.  


“During this very challenging time, Top Workplaces has proven to be a beacon of light for organizations, as well as a sign of resiliency and strong business performance,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “When you give your employees a voice, you come together to navigate challenges and shape your path forward. Top Workplaces draw on real-time insights into what works best for their organization, so they can make informed decisions that have a positive impact on their people and their business.”  


Looking to grow your career at a company that puts its people first? Visit Intact’s careers page at 


About Intact Technology 

Intact Technology is a different kind of ServiceNow consultant. Our business model cuts failure out of the equation—unlocking sustained digital evolution. As the ServiceNow U.S. Federal Partner of the Year, Intact is committed to making consulting simpler, more efficient, and risk-free for the best value on the market. For more information, visit 

Copyright © 2024 Intact Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. 


About Energage 

Making the world a better place to work together. TM 

Energage is a purpose-driven company that helps organizations turn employee feedback into useful business intelligence and credible employer recognition through Top Workplaces. Built on 16 years of culture research and the results from 27 million employees surveyed across more than 70,000 organizations, Energage delivers the most accurate competitive benchmark available. With access to a unique combination of patented analytic tools and expert guidance, Energage customers lead the competition with an engaged workforce and an opportunity to gain recognition for their people-first approach to culture. For more information or to nominate your organization, visit or   



Intact Technology, Inc.  


Insights Article

Time is up: Consultants, start measuring your success based on outcomes

The oncoming innovation tsunami may force you to anyway

Jesse White
June 25, 2024
June 25, 2024

The IT consulting industry’s dominant business model, based on billing for time rather than outcomes, is fundamentally at odds with the efficiency and speed enabled by today’s technologies. This tension is reaching a breaking point.


Efficiencies from technology advancement

The rise of low-code/no-code platforms has enabled major gains in efficiency. A decade ago, out of the box software capabilities would meet 60% of client needs, and we’d have to customize the other 40%. With modern platforms, up to 90% of outcomes can be achieved without unnecessary customization. Even the remaining 10% is dramatically easier to configure. This means we can pursue successful deployments in record time – as short as three weeks in some cases. Complex deployments that used to take two to three years in the government are now taking us six to nine months on average.


Most clients are better served by using these out-of-the-box solutions. But traditional consultancies exploit their clients’ lack of knowledge about what’s possible with low-code/no-code technology. They’ll ask clients what they want to build, knowing full well that the client’s frame of reference is limited to their existing, often outdated systems and processes. The client, understandably, asks for what’s familiar. The consultant then gets to work building out those specifications, billing hour after hour, without ever proposing a more efficient, forward-looking approach.


It’s the equivalent of saying: “Take the new Honda CRV I just bought and turn it into the 40-year-old Honda I am used to driving.” The result? Hours and hours of pay for the consultant.


This business model conflicts with the mission critical modernization goals of the government, which need to be accomplished quickly. 


The Intact difference 

We built Intact on the simple idea of doing the right thing for our customers, just as we would want it done for ourselves. Our business model is outcome-based. We charge our clients for the quality of an end product, not for the time it took us to build it. Our number one KPI is neither profitability nor growth. It’s customer success. And we can build a thriving business with customer success as our north star, because our outcomes-based model actively incentivizes efficiency. 


  • A smart approach to technology. We provide leadership in design to ensure best use of your technology investment while eliminating unnecessary customization. This ensures you get to your outcomes quickly and have low technical debt on your ServiceNow platform. In turn, this ensures you can upgrade quickly and take advantage of powerful new capabilities as ServiceNow releases them to market.


  • A focus on people. Technology does not produce outcomes – people do. Therefore, organizational change management is critical to the success of our customers. We understand that the most powerful technology in the world is worthless if users don’t adopt it. That’s why we invest heavily in awareness, adoption, enablement, and ongoing user support.


  • A subscription model that makes continuous enhancement fast and easy. We offer a subscription model that enables quick action on demand backlogs so that customers can constantly create new platform functionality without needing to constantly start new projects. Our ServiceNow implementations are also easy to upgrade and optimize precisely because they’ve not been over-customized from the get-go. 


These differences are built on a foundational embrace of latest technology advancements, and they are why we are equipped to weather the next wave when it comes.


Adaptation is urgent 

We are in the middle of an AI wave that is poised to make development even faster and more efficient. As we look ahead, the imperative for the industry to change will only intensify. Clients’ expectations for speed and value will continue to rise. In this world, a business model premised on inefficiency is simply untenable. ServiceNow describes the role of AI in the low-code and application development cycle as “revolutionary.” They point to a Gartner prediction that by 2025, 80% of app development will make use of GenAI code generation, with developers acting as validators and orchestrators of back-end and front-end components and integrations. 


A business model that relies on inefficiency is riper for disruption than ever in the face of this oncoming innovation wave. Clients will increasingly demand faster, more cost-effective solutions, as they become even easier to achieve. 


Forward-thinking consultancies that pivot towards outcome-based pricing—and the way they work as a result—can unequivocally embrace new AI technology, without the fear that the efficiency it promises may hurt their bottom line. At Intact, we are thrilled about the potential it will unlock.


The future of partnerships is outcome-based, and we welcome all to join us in it.

Insights Article

At Intact, a college degree is not synonymous with potential

Why our approach to assessing qualifications yields better results

Jesse White
June 25, 2024
June 25, 2024

For decades, we have lived with a myth: that a college degree is a prerequisite to success in a job. The government, the technology sector, and other employers of all stripes rely on it as a requirement for hiring.

This myth is holding us back as an industry and as a society.

The college degree myth has trapped millions of talented workers in low-wage jobs and in a cycle of poverty. According to Merit America, a national nonprofit looking to break this cycle through focused skills training, 53 million working adults, in the United States, do not earn a living wage. They are stuck with few options to advance: college is prohibitively expensive, and there’s a lack of quality vocational educational options. This group—which equals nearly half of the U.S. workforce—is an extraordinary, untapped talent pipeline, particularly for the technology industry—which evolves way too quickly for a traditional college education to keep up with. In other words, going to college might soon become actively unproductive for talented people interested in specialized technology careers. 

Before I share why, let me be clear: I am not advocating against going to college. College is a wonderful and transformational experience for those fortunate enough to experience it.  


Shortcomings of college degrees in technology

We work in an incredibly fast-moving industry. Many people may say this, but in our case, it’s difficult to overstate. ServiceNow, for example, has two major product releases every year, each one potentially transforming the way we deliver outcomes to our clients. It is highly unlikely, therefore, for any traditional higher educational program to keep up and train for jobs in this space. No matter what a person’s educational background is, they will require intense additional skills training to be successful on the job. 

Computer science degrees are in some ways counterproductive to the low-code/no-code space we operate in. Someone who has spent four years getting a computer science degree may understandably not want to do that kind of out-of-the-box configuration and scripting work. They may instead prefer to use their degree to develop something from scratch, like a game. It’s the equivalent of investing an enormous amount in learning to be a mason—it’s less likely you want to use your hard-earned skills to do concrete printing instead of stone work? (Unless you were to see the potential, the speed and the financial opportunity in doing so.)

People who hold other degrees—be they in business, communications, or marketing—do not have a competitive edge when they come into our pipeline. With or without a degree, new talent will all need to be trained in the same way to harness the potential of the latest technologies. 

By holding on to college degree requirements, companies are severely and unproductively restricting their own talent pipelines. This comes at a time when there is a severe labor shortage in the technology space: over the next decade, jobs in the sector are predicted to grow twice as fast as the labor market, and 64% of IT executives are reporting that it is hard to find qualified candidates.


Predictors of success at work

I have decades of experience hiring talent, and I can tell you that stamps on a resume are the least helpful predictors of job success. Instead, We look for qualities like emotional intelligence, drive, grit, intellectual curiosity, ability to learn quickly, and resilience in the face of challenge. Formal education can help nurture some of those traits, but they also commonly develop through other life experiences outside of college classrooms – and the experience of not going to college is just as powerful in that regard. 

A college graduate today has, on average, more job opportunities than someone without a college degree. Often, the person without a college degree has just one path—and this means they run hard after that opportunity with singular focus and with deep humility.

I speak from experience: I didn’t get a college degree. When I was 16, I wanted to get into the technology sector, and I could see that traditional educational paths at the time would not necessarily get me where I wanted to go. I was hungry, motivated, seized upon the one chance I got, and never looked back.

I look for that hunger in the eyes of a prospective hire. I also look for self-awareness, empathy, positivity, resilience and a humble drive to continuously learn. Taken together, these are the cornerstones of exceptional talent at Intact. (Watch this space for more details on how we have built an interview process at Intact to assess this. I am also always happy to talk more to anyone interested about how we approached this.)


The results, and a call to action

At Intact, we have built our business and our culture on the assumption that talent comes from anywhere. Every year over the last decade, our OnPoint training program has recruited the most impressive cohorts of individuals—regardless of whether or not they have college degrees. Our current graduation rate for this program is 95% with 100% of graduates achieving advanced industry certifications within their first year. It’s hard to imagine that many of our incredible friends and coworkers may have otherwise been unfairly excluded from the prosperity technology can deliver.  They’re delivering extraordinary outcomes for our clients,  their families and the business.

I would argue that employers, particularly in emerging technology sectors, who remain tethered to the college degree are doing a disservice to their own business by locking themselves out of a growing, millions-strong, extraordinary talent pool at a time they probably need it most.  With a thoughtful plan and a commitment to invest, you can unlock limitless potential for hungry job-seekers, positively impact your culture and the local economies you support.  It feels good every day to improve the lives of others and to be inspired in return with their humility, excitement and creativity.  It’s a beautiful reminder of what inspired many of us to choose this dynamic and ever challenging industry.


Let go of this college degree myth: it’s the smart, and the right, thing to do. If you need help doing it, we are here to talk.