Does digital transformation even exist without the personal digital transformation?
I recently came across an interesting imaginary dialogue in relation to the labour market transformation. During the late-stage industrial revolution when automobiles took over the place, one said:
- You see? We don’t have to worry about that much. In the past, we had carters and carts and today we have cab drivers with automobiles. The market generates new opportunities.
- Okay, but what happened to the carters’ horses?
The trends we see today imply that the daily work-practice of the last two decades in the field of administration, process management, manual data controlling and so on will be outdated very soon, and only a few years remain for people working in these fields to adapt from the labour perspective. This is what we call digital transformation.
The question that every manager should ask from themselves is how can we not write-off the best and most loyal team members as collateral damage of the digital transformation? We can rephrase the question like this: how are we going to successfully conduct digital transformation with analog staff?
Reflecting back to the imaginary dialogue: Analog staff are the horses and digital-ready skillsets are the cars with internal combustion engines.
We have several good examples when employees could be upgraded for digital-ready skills and find their place in the new digital economy. Just to name one remarkable example: at a big German multinational company a group of manual software testers were retrained as automated testers. Why was it worth for the management to invest in to such expensive training?
Because otherwise they would have instantly had to realize the loss of all the experience, domain and market knowledge as the collateral damage of laying-off the manual testers. Not to mention the reality that finding even 20 good IT people today is a significant and expensive challenge considering around 600k IT experts are missing from the EU job market.
We believe that if someone is motivated enough to move out of their comfort zone, then it makes sense to invest in them to acquire digital and IT skills. All other solutions are just way too expensive from the company perspective. Of course, not everyone is ready for the personal digital transformation journey but with the right encouragement and approach, we can select the most fitting candidates, train them and make them an engine of the company’s digital transformation.
I’m looking forward to discussing this and other key topics in the panel session “Future skills for a future world” at ITU Telecom World 2019 in Budapest next month.