The Digital Workplace – Are You Ready?

August 30, 2017 | Reskill Your Workforce | 3 min read

Digital Workforce Strategy

As I sat with my kids recently watching Dreamworks 2002 Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, I was reminded of the many complexities that juggernauts of change bring. In the movie, the transcontinental railway was an unstoppable force, revolutionizing a way of life; in our time, the digitalization of the workplace is a more understated change, yet with no less profound of an impact on our day-to-day lives. How you react, or adapt to change, is instrumental in determining the impact or the outcomes that change brings. As a former colleague once said about themselves “I’m the kind of person who, just as the bandwagon is leaving town, I’m chasing after it trying to jump on.”

Accenture released a report in 2015 that shows that within the next three years, 78% of business leaders expected their organizations to be a digital one, yet only 49% of them said they had a strategy for the management and development of the skills needed for a digital world.

This suggests my colleague isn’t the only one who tries to jump on the bandwagon as it leaves town.

So why aren’t more organizations reserving a seat on the bandwagon?

According to that same Accenture report, a lack of leadership and vision drives this trend. Despite knowing that embracing a digital transformation can result in improved productivity, more innovation, and greater agility, they aren’t really preparing for it.

Often the blame is pointed at staff, that workers themselves are a barrier to digital skill acquisition, yet Accenture research found employees more than willing to engage and develop digital skills. Irrespective of who is to blame, the reality is that each company needs to review their current digital skills and those of their workforce, plan a strategy to ensure that gaps or holes can and will be filled and then most importantly, execute these plans.

Dr. Didier Bonnet, Sr. VP and Global Practice Leader at Capgemini Consulting, has a number of suggestions and proven methods for accomplishing this. I encourage you to read Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, a book he co-authored with both Andrew McAfee and George Westerman. For a quick, shorter read, check out his HBR piece, Convincing Employees to Use New Technology, which will give you the basic elements of a strategy.

The point is, we must all acknowledge the growing importance and significance of equipping your entire workforce with digital skills. Perhaps IDC Research VP Bob Parker says it best, "Digital transformation is not just a technology trend, it is at the center of business strategies across all industry segments and markets. Enabled by the 3rd Platform technologies of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud, digital transformation represents an opportunity for companies to redefine their customers' experience and achieve new levels of enterprise productivity.”

So where do you stand? Are you with the 49% who said they already have a strategy for the management and development of skills and talent in a digital world? Or are you with the rest, the majority who, despite the inevitable, are still dragging their heels and failing to prepare for today’s digital workplace?

Emily Wiese is the VP of Digital Skills at Skillsoft.