New Skills Within the Digital Organization: What Are They and Who’s Mastering Them?
Virtually every article on this topic will tell you so and urge organizations to embrace so-called digital dexterity, since that’s what’s needed these days. The clear-cut answer to who and what is still a mystery, but also exactly the burning questions for most (aspiring) digital organizations. Above all, the technological revolution impacts everybody in any workforce. Meaning all employees, regardless of what they do, are affected by technology – simply because it gives all employees in your organization access to new information and they should know how to deal with that new information. But that won’t give you strategic advantage over others. Let’s compare it to horse racing: organizations need to decide which employees they want to bet their money on, or to put it crudely, which horse is going to cross the finish line first?
4 New Skills for Employees to Survive in a Digital Organization
If an organization was to put out a job spec for a digital employee, what would the requirements be? In other words: what skills should the winning horse possess?
1. Digital Development
Employees need to know how to use technology as a tool to develop and enhance their existing skills in the digital organization; to utilize technologies to constantly learn and be adaptive to changes;
2. Digital Implementation
Employees must actively seek new technologies that will assist them in their daily responsibilities; adapt to emerging technologies to come up with new solutions and find new products and services or create new ways of working;
3. Data Driven/Digitized Decision-Making
Employees need to be able to process data, conceptualize around it and derive valuable insights from them. Furthermore, they need to embrace new business models deriving from those technologies to make the organization (more) successful;
4. Dare to Be Different
Employees need to think outside the box and see new solutions and business models that are inspired by new technology and data availability; this mindset is mostly applicable to the aforementioned digital talents.
For organizations to actually gain true strategic advantage, they need to make clear decisions regarding who they are going to invest in and in which of the aforementioned skills. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone in the digital organization needs to be on the same level – simply because not everybody needs the same skills for the type of work they do. The trick is to focus on and empower the employees who truly have an impact on the organization, and more importantly, on its success.
Meet the Digital Talents
Digital talents are people who can genuinely make a strategic difference for the organization. When digital talents use data, know-how and experimental journeys to look at existing and new business models, they create the possibility of venturing into new value chains. Organizations need to ensure these talents continuously develop skills that will enable them to make well-informed decisions about possible new products, solutions or services, often because the data tells them so. They always look at technological implementations that could radically change their current jobs and that of people in the whole organization. Essentially, they are the ones that will take your organization to the next level.
Crowdsource Within the Digital Organization
This obviously begs the question: where can I find these digital innovators? To stay with digital jargon, one could call it “crowdsourcing”. Meaning, you search within the organization for talents that have already developed strength in conceptualizing data and out-of-the-box thinking. In the old days, that would be unthinkable. Back then, an organization would hire a bunch of talented people – possibly head-hunted from other firms – and call them ‘the strategy department’, tasked with developing inventive strategic plans. Those days are behind us. Just look at Netflix and Google – their people spend more time brainstorming with start-ups than actually strategizing in their own company.
It’s a trend we encourage, but at the same time, we also strongly advise organizations not to underestimate the potential of their own people. The innovative drive and necessary skills found in start-ups are often right under their noses. This leads us to the roadmap to singling out these talents.
Roadmap for a Truly Digital Organization: 4 Steps to Get There
1. Find Your Digital Talents
Offer employees time, space and resources to come up with innovative ideas. When they have (come up with great ideas), empower them to execute their ideas, help them when they’re faced with challenges or obstacles and, thus, co-create innovation;
2. Build a learning platform supporting digital research
The sharing of knowledge is essential to not only stay up to date, but also ahead of competition. Implement meetings that enable employees to further develop their skills, such as creative sessions and simulation games;
3. Create Employee Awareness
Employees need to understand how their work fits into the bigger picture. Not to mention, the way people work together has also changed drastically in the Digital Era. Data that employee A generates is also used by employee B and C: person A needs to know who B and C are, and what exactly they do with his/her data;
4. Ensure That Those in Leadership Positions Have True Digital Mindsets
Leadership should facilitate and stimulate the development of the aforementioned, and coach the digital revolution. For some organizations this could mean a change in company culture.
This is the only way your (digital) organization will benefit from technological revolution. The reality is that organizations that see possible strategic advantage need to move fast because, as they say, the early bird catches the worm. My advice: train your horse well to bring the trophy home.’
Read more about the ins and outs of a liquid workforce.