Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Digital technology is evolving rapidly, outpacing the rate at which many organisations can adapt. For most, the central challenge of transforming their business is about enabling their workforce to take charge of new technology to enhance performance.

At its heart, the promise of digital is that it enables organisations to use data better to drive every element of the business, from production to customer acquisition and engagement. To become data driven, organisations need to develop their employees’ skills so they can use data to create business value by making smarter decisions. In addition to data science and analytic skills, organisations need skills in areas such as artificial intelligence and user experience.

Most organisations realise that their staff are far from ready for the digital world. An 18-country study from the Technical University of Munich and SAP found that 64% of respondents felt their company personnel did not possess the skills necessary for successful digital transformation. And only 16% had established a dedicated recruitment or training programme to build digital skills.

The big take-out:

Achieving successful digital transformation requires reshaping workforces to do more with data and technology

When we speak to organisations that are rolling out digital strategies, we often hear that the reason they are reluctant to invest in digital training is that they fear their staff will be poached by other companies. Many also believe they can source the skills they need by recruiting from outside the business or outsourcing to a third party.

However, building internal capacity is an investment in the business itself – one that will deliver value as the company develops its human capital. While it makes sense for an organisation to selectively work with service providers to source certain technical skills, it also needs to reshape its workforce into a team that is ready for the digital future.

The technology used to drive powerful customer engagements, gather data from every channel and touch point, and analyse it is already available. The challenge for most companies in implementing it lies in developing the skills, culture and processes to use it effectively.

Sure, technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are going to be disruptive in the way they help us process large data volumes, but human insight and creativity are essential for the beneficiation of data. Getting digital transformation right is therefore not about technology, but about enabling people to accomplish more with data and technology.

It’s a journey that demands an investment in training, a commitment to developing a culture that values curiosity and innovation, and the ability to build a workforce that has the tools to continually adapt and learn.

Mullins is director, Middle East & Africa, at Acceleration


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