When Foxconn, a premium electronics manufacturer, replaced 60,000 of its human force with robots, it was a big signal and a writing on the wall that there is an urgent need to think about digital disruption. The impact of areas like artificial intelligence and Robotic technology is no longer an intellectual discussion alone but could hit harder home on everyday issues like employment and jobs creation. Even in the World Economic Forum meet in January 2017, these issues were discussed in a major way.

Digital transformation revolutionises the basic business processes and brings about major changes in the way organizations function. The business arm that is most impacted by these changes is the workforce.

As per a study by Accenture, 73 percent of employees recognise that digital will seriously transform the nature of their work over the next three years.

While organisations are adopting tools and technologies to keep pace with digital transformation, the people dimension is equally, if not more, important. A planned investment in people and integrated talent strategy is key to this transformation.

People And Digital Transformation

Much has been written about Millennials and the Smartphone Age, but now developments have gained a certain momentum. From wearables to e-commerce to social media networking, people have embraced the digital world with a remarkable ease. However, there’s another facet to this story. Experts like Martha Lane Fox, the face

Experts like Martha Lane Fox, the face behind UK’s digital transformation, believe that in UK more than ‘16 Mn people lack the basic digital skills to fully benefit from the internet’ – including tech-savvy millennials. Besides, change isn’t a favourite task for most, 87% employees worldwide are disengaged from the digital transformation processes within organisations according to a Digital Business Transformation report by CISCO. This throws light on how integrating digital technology with business processes can be a herculean task.

Stepping Up To The Challenge

Embracing digital will make processes efficient and result in increased revenues. Digital companies achieve 26% more profitability than their competitors and generate 9% more revenue through their employees and physical assets. More organisations are beginning to bring digital to the core of the organizations – i.e. to the products and services, and not only to support areas like marketing and internal functions.

However, for this, they must first meet the challenge of engaging their employees in the overall digitisation of the organisation. They must develop strategies to make the digital a part of their work cycle let’s understand how businesses can step up to this challenge.

Digital Helps Retain Talent

Research points out that employees at organisations that are digital winners are 24% more satisfied and 21% more likely to stay in their jobs even when given the chance to leave. The perception and evidence of a company moving with the times is a powerful retention factor.

Listen To Millennials

Millennials make up 50% of the present workforce. In many organizations, they are increasingly holding leadership positions. They have the skills required to drive digital transformation. Some organizations have innovated by implemented ideas like reverse mentoring of senior leaders by millennials.

Leaders 2020 has revealed that millennial executives feel there is a much larger gap in company leadership skills than their non-millennial counterparts, by a factor of between 15 and 23 percentage points. Thus, the integration of this generation must be an urgent priority.

Retraining The Workforce

This is about investing time and money, and the ability to do more with less and at speed. Companies need to set a budget for going digital and a time frame within which they aim to achieve certain aspects of digitization like employee empowerment. Creating a culture of digital learning to empower the employees with the latest technology will spell progress for both individuals and the organisation.

NIIT Ltd, a global talent development company has incentivised a select group of employees to choose their own digital learning path with organization financial support on a pilot basis. Organizations can also consider encouraging employees to enter information exchange programs with other firms. P&G, for instance, has entered into an employee exchange programme with Google to foster an environment of innovation where the employees gain from other’s expertise.

Source Digital Talent

While it is important to train the existing employees by imparting digital skills, itis equally important to hire those who are already skilled in the same. Fresh graduates and lateral hires, equipped with the required updated knowledge base and skill sets prove beneficial in any organisation. Some key areas in hiring focus today at many enterprises are digital marketing, data science, business analytics and data analytics.

Leverage Acquisitions

WalmartLabs, in a bid to stay ahead in the digital competition, acquired firms that were experts in the area. There is increasing evidence of acquisition of specialist firms by larger corporates to jump start and accelerate their digital journey.

Digital Transformation – A Closer Look Back Home  

Back home, there’s a greater demand for new technical skills. By 2015, research firm IDC expects that 90% of all jobs will require Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills.

Employees need to acquire skills such as mobility, business intelligence, analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing. And this technical know-how must be complemented with robust business acumen.

Thus, to bridge the skill gap, organizations are encouraging their workforce to undergo skill training, innovation and digital transformation programs. According to reports, while Infosys trained 39,000 of its employees in design thinking last year, Accenture spent $800 Mn in training and development by leveraging the latest digital technologies including virtual classrooms to deliver highly relevant training to its people.

Digital skill requirements vary from one organisation to the other based on their digital maturity and transformational capability. However, training as part of a comprehensive plan remains the stepping stone.

Conclusion

To stay ahead, organisations must embrace digital in all aspects. Digital is transforming the core of many organisations and employees have to keep pace. This is an urgent organizational priority and one that can enable the organization to stay competitive at a time when industry boundaries are blurring and digital disruption is becoming an everyday phenomenon.


About The Author

[The author of this post is Arjun Shankar, Head – Corporate Management Services, NIIT Ltd.]

Note from Inc42: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.