Article

Phil Livingstone
Phil Livingstone 19 September 2016
Categories Advertising

Protect Yourself from Digital Transformation by Learning New Skills

Progressive companies should have a programme for upskilling their employees as much as they should always be evolving and innovating.

The most successful programs will put an emphasis on structured learning opportunities, new ways to access content, improved ways of working and resources to support them. Embedding continuous on the job training and with robust skills development programs that help employees learn new skills, all geared towards improving business performance.

The mere mention of the phrase ‘digital transformation’ and words like automation, innovation and connectivity might come to mind. But hang on, automation isn’t new, the term has been around for many years. It’s only now that it’s been supporting and accelerating businesses much faster through recent technological advances, analytics and data connections.

Flaws in some industry sectors have been exposed. Some business sectors have been forced to change and evolve in order to survive with transport, retail, and publishing sectors all examples here and some very close to being added to the casualty list.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan is worried. “Silicon Valley is coming and if banks don’t up their game, then tech companies will take over the industry’s business. There are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking”

There’s no doubt that any enterprise that accelerates their processes, activities and overall business models through digital technology will create an advantageous position in their sector. Ultimately, whoever unlocks the reams of data and uses it strategically will win.

Eric Pearson CIO from International Hotel Group (IHG) summed it up quite nicely by saying “It’s no longer the big beating the small, but the fast beating the slow”.

Enter the disruptors.

Behind the meteoric share price rises of some (very) public companies, lies something more than just a few thousand lines of code and a customer database. Companies that have embraced mobile, data analytics and personalisation have prospered. These successful businesses all have something in common; they’ve all reconfigured and re-imagined customer experiences. They’ve made the mundane simple and in some cases, addictive.

Digitisation has driven a fundamental change in society. The expectation for companies has never been higher. Get it wrong and face severe public humiliation via social media. Gone are the days when a strongly worded letter to the complaints department might return an apology and a small gesture of compensation. Today we have the means to pick out CEO’s and take them on (in full public view).

Can you think of an industry that isn’t under threat of being ‘disrupted’ and going through some sort of ‘digital transformation’ programme?

“At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years... if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies” - John Chambers, Executive Chairman, Cisco Systems.

Clearly, any transformation must be led from the top, not simply just getting board level sponsors but getting executives to fully engage, embrace and adopt new ways of thinking and working. This is the real challenge. Digital transformation is not just all about disruption or technology; it’s about behaviour and culture which is often overlooked.

There’s no room for complacency, especially when it comes to the culture within a company. All employees need to be taken on the same transformation journey and supported throughout the process.   Charles Darwin was right when he said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”.

People, not technology, are the most important piece in the digital transformation puzzle. Technology doesn’t disrupt businesses – people do. Technology and data are merely enablers.

Progressive companies should have a programme for upskilling their employees as much as they should always be evolving and innovating. The most successful programs will put an emphasis on structured learning opportunities, new ways to access content, improved ways of working and resources to support them. Embedding continuous on the job training and with robust skills development programs that help employees learn new skills, all geared towards improving business performance.

Digital learning should be part of how a company operates. As well as new technical capabilities, there is also the need to change hearts and minds. Learning new processes and more importantly, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies.

Digital Transformation, if done correctly should also cut red tape (for example, historical and outdated ways of sharing customer data between departments) and break down any internal silos that may exist within organisations. Collaboration with colleagues and customers is critical, without barriers.

Again, sometimes overlooked but a primary driver and accelerator of these changes actually comes from the people side.

The expectations as employees (and as customers) are the same. We want technology and processes that empower people, making them more productive (working smarter). We don’t have any patience for slow websites, outdated technology or poor customer service.

It goes without saying that employees, just as much as their digital skills are the keys to digital transformation. So seek out development opportunities, on the job coaching and new ways to add new skills. After all, nobody ever got fired for asking to improve themselves.

To quote from something I saw recently that really hit home...

CFO asks CEO: ‘What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?’

CEO: ‘What happens if we don’t and they stay?’

 Food For thought.

 

@phillivingstone

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/iamphillivingstone

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