Five Pillars Of Digital Transformation: Skills And Talent Management

Ashutosh Kumar, Joao Ribeiro, Jose Carvalho, and Kay P. Hradilak

In our last blog, we finished with these questions:

  • Is technology a threat to people?
  • How can humans stay relevant in a digital world?
  • How can technology engage people in the workplace?
  • What are the jobs of the future?

All touch on the most critical element of any transformation: People. While transformation impacts people, it is also done to improve people’s lives, so we need to look at the skills and talent topic holistically and alongside the other pillars we are discussing in this series: mindset, digital destiny, technology, and organizational evolution.

In looking at skills and talent, we primarily focus on the impact of change in three areas: universal skills, specialized skills, and talent management. 

Universal skills

The rise of digital enterprises is bringing an opportunity to fully reimagine business models, business processes, and work, leading to further streamlining and leaner enterprises. This means that the interactions between people and technology will become further implicit and seamless. Customers and employees will acquire a new level of exposure and need for simple, cool, but relevant applications. In fact, the penetration of consumer-grade applications makes people more knowledgeable on any topic they interact with, increasing their expectations for exactly that: simple, cool but relevant applications.

Specialized skills

The rise of new technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data capturing sensors increases the need for specialized skills. These skills can range from investigation, to deep development, data exploration,  data science, and experimentation, among others. All of these skills, plus the ability to clearly align technology to business value, will dictate how successful people, teams, and organizations can be. These skills are not easy to find, either internally or in the marketplace, since they take a long time to develop.

Talent management

The new age of digitalization is impacting entire enterprises far beyond IT departments. Digital is becoming the core business, and any organization not acting on it risks losing revenue, market share, and eventually business relevance. Don’t be fooled: each person, whether customer or employee, is impacted by this change. Agile collaboration will be paramount when it comes to defining successful teams. Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship are becoming crucial for modern businesses. As not all skills need to be in-house, companies and project teams are becoming a mix of internal and external talent, of both temporary and permanent nature.

With an understanding of the impact of change in these three areas, we can look into how to address challenges of transformation. Digitalization must have a strong focus on skills and talent, with the backing of top management. Its backbone can be summed up in four building blocks: awareness, capacity, expertise, and leadership.

  • Digitalization awareness: The basic knowledge and skills provided to every individual an an enterprise. The objective here is to increase the general knowledge people need to deal with new technologies and innovation.
  • Digitalization capacity: Additional skills acquired by a significant part of the workforce in order to involve them in digital projects. This typically requires employees to dedicate some of their time (e.g., 20%) to digital initiatives in order to increase the organization’s capacity to innovate. This would typically be the case with customer-facing roles or supporting functions. 
  • Digitalization expertise: Key, specialized skills that employees dedicated to digital initiatives must have. These individuals would typically work on several initiatives to scale the ability to deliver on niche areas. This would possibly be an area where skills from the market could be acquired. 
  • Digitalization leadership: Last but not least, leaders who are digitally savvy and have the capability to be trained or skilled for end-to-end digital business across the enterprise’s value chain. These leaders will act as evangelists with a clear ownership of promoting faster adoption of new technologies across the enterprise.

Driving the change of digitalization with regard to skills and talent must be seen as a strategic priority for top management and treated as business as usual. The ultimate goal is creating an organization that self-evolves through continuous transformation. And that is the topic we will discuss in our next blog in this series.

As a first step, why not assess the digital maturity of your organization with the Digital Transformation Maturity Assessment with SAP and IDC.