The pod training concept is particularly useful for employees who have received technical training, but not any hands-on experience. Learning from more senior IT workers helps them become more comfortable more quickly, she said.
Some CIOs are embedding IT workers in business departments to help educate them on the relationship between IT and business.
James Clent, CIO at United Orthopedic Group, runs a 21-person IT organization, so it's important that most have multiple skill sets.
Clent, whose company manufactures non-invasive orthopedic rehabilitation products, said he can mentor his own team and sees the skills gap as less of a concern than the communications gap between IT and business.
United Orthopedic's IT shop goes as far as to offer free six-week, online business training courses for IT personnel.
"I see my technicians talking to a customer and the customer's eyes glaze over. They don't listen anymore. That's the most important gap I see," he said. "They need to be able to get their message across. Communication is the number one thing to make IT and the business successful."
The business training includes instruction on financial analysis, project management and decision making processes. The online classes let employees learn on their own time or during work breaks. Even if the training makes an employee attractive to other employers, Clent said his shop benefits because it's where they use the new skills first.
"It's an investment I'm willing to make because it delivers so much more value to the company," he said.
Richter said Kimberly-Clark embeds IT employees in business units in 29 countries, where they learn the technology needs of business and make themselves less intimidating to non-technical employees.
The Kimberly-Clark IT staff is also rotated into new job roles for six-month periods to increase cross-training. The key to that program's success is ensuring the workers that they will be returning to their old job.
"A lot of jobs have also disappeared over the years. So folks are afraid to be in that one job role," he said.
Cook Children's Health Care System embeds IT workers in medical departments to increase communications and grease the skids for IT work requests, Meadows said.
For example, hospital departments with embedded IT workers don't need to submit IT requests, they just ask for help.
Since implementing the program, the health care firm's IT department has been atop internal customer satisfaction surveys, she said.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about careers in Computerworld's Careers Topic Center.