Digital Transformation needs people with Digital Skills
Technology continues to evolve rapidly and has become ever-present in our daily lives.
Consumers rely on technology more than ever to access the products and services they require and engage more regularly with their favourite brands.
Employees are increasingly finding their day-to-day roles becoming ever more digitised.
And organisations of all sizes are becoming increasingly reliant on the technologies that influence how they operate and do business.
As the transition from traditional ways of working to digitally focused workplaces continues apace, the importance of digital skills for both employees and employers has become critical.
Organisations can’t become truly digital workplaces without people who know how to deploy the latest technologies. And once deployed, adoption will fail in the absence of ‘digital champions’ within the organisation, who can lead the way by example.
A lack of digital skills can also have an impact on an organisation’s ability to compete. Those who fail to adopt new technology quick enough in comparison to their competitors lose business to them – even more so when situations like COVID-19 prevent physical interactions. Under such a scenario, employees may desert a sinking ship to seeking a more digitally mature employer.
This isn’t just a problem for businesses, but for public sector organisations too.
People talk to each other, and if they can interact with one local authority using an app or social media, but they can’t with another local authority, then this will soon become known.
While new technologies are being introduced and adopted by businesses at a frenetic pace, this is not always being matched by the rate at which employees are acquiring the latest digital skills they need to work with them.
This places huge pressure on organisations looking to achieve digital transformation through new technology, as they face a shortage of the specialist digital skills they need to achieve it.
And unless the issue is addressed, with action from both organisations and employees, the digital skills gap will continue to widen.
The demand for digital skills
Organisations of all sizes have a growing need for more digital skills within their workforce.
As they become more reliant on technology solutions to enable them to go paperless, work remotely, automate processes, streamline their customer journey and offer more digital solutions to their customers, they will need more digital skills to deliver this.
Any organisation which incorporates such technology will be taking a significant step towards achieving the efficiencies and benefits that digital transformation can bring about.
But the real productivity gains will not be known until new technologies are fully adopted by all employees. That can only happen if staff know how to use them properly and see the benefits in terms of making their day-to-day roles easier.
Automation can help streamline processes for teams performing repetitive, time-consuming tasks, freeing up their time to focus on work that’s more enjoyable and better supports the organisation’s operational and commercial objectives.
Employers that don’t improve their teams’ digital skills could put future opportunities at risk because staff won’t keep up with the changes and benefits digitalisation brings.
It’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure the skills gap doesn’t become a digital skills crisis.
By creating a digital culture within your organisation and equipping your team with the right digital skills, your organisation will reap the benefits of adopting new technologies.
How businesses can close the digital skills gap
Businesses that embrace the changes that technology can bring will reap the benefits of more motivated staff, who are keen to use new tools to enable them to do their jobs more efficiently.
Some of the basic digital skills that organisations still need include:
Data has transformed the way people and organisations work. Loss of data, either through cyberattack, poor data management or storage, or non-compliance, can cause huge reputational, financial or operational damage. Having staff equipped with key data storage and management skills will help reduce these risks.
Cybercrime is increasing year on year and affects smaller organisations just as much as the big players. To combat these risks, it’s vital all your staff receive Cyber Awareness Training, while your ICT team needs to understand and manage an organisation’s cybersecurity.
No-code/low-code application development
Low-code applications, such as Microsoft’s Power Apps, Power BI and Power Automate enable teams to work together to automate and streamline their day-to-day processes, saving huge amounts of time and money.
Digital applications, meaning applications delivered online over the internet, are becoming more commonplace at work. Many organisations rely on them to book meetings, communicate, manage projects and collaborate on documents in real-time. Again, your organisation will only unlock the full benefits that digital applications can bring if your staff are trained to use them most effectively.
Recognising and rewarding digital skills in the workplace
Normally, people view ICT training as a necessary waste of time. Recognising and rewarding digital skills in the workplace will help to change this perception and ensure that digital skills are viewed as beneficial to the employee both in their day-to-day work, and their pay packet.
Encouraging employee-led innovation
If an organisation has 5,000 employees and its ICT function has 100 people, then leaving app development to ICT severely restricts speed. Empowering 5,000 employees to do app development could make a massive difference.
Embedding a ‘develop quick, fail fast’ mentality
Typical ICT developments are very costly and time-consuming. In the new digital world, we want things to happen quickly but where required, they should also be allowed to fail quickly and then be removed. So, if something doesn’t work, kill it and move on.
One way to encourage your workforce to embrace new technology is to empower them to use it by creating a digital culture which values curiosity and collaboration.
Building digital skills into your workforce development plans will give your staff the skills and knowledge they need to adapt to new ways of working using the latest technologies.
Once they can see the benefits of adopting and using the latest technologies, and how they make their day-to-day roles easier, they’re likely to find efficiency gains which help boost productivity, collaboration and morale.
Longer-term, this can lead to a more satisfied workforce and easier staff acquisition and retention, because your people will see how technology affords them the space to do more fulfilling work.
Managing talent in a digital age
Most organisations now recognise the benefits that digital technology brings.
More traditional ways of working are becoming outdated, as both workers and consumers become increasingly reliant on digital platforms and devices in their everyday lives.
Consumers now spend more time than ever on digital channels.
Organisations need to respond to these changing expectations by ensuring they are equipped with relevant digital skills. By nurturing their employees to keep these skills up to date, they can continue to meet the ever-changing demands of their customers and service users.
To manage talent in the digital age, and ensure they have the right digital skills in-house, it’s vital that organisations realise that digital transformation doesn’t just happen, their people have to become a part of it.
People who don’t become a part of it become obstacles that the organisation has to work around and, in time, has to surgically remove.
This isn’t a position any employee should want to be in, it isn’t a position anyone in ICT should want to find themselves in, and certainly shouldn’t be how any organisation wants to be perceived.
So, investing in your organisation’s digital talent can, in the long-term, offer real payback.