Gearing up talent with digital skills
This article was originally published in TimesJobs - Source Link
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Digital Transformation is not only about changing the entire business landscape but also impacting the career and competency landscape of the companies. With fast-changing technologies, the required skills are also changing at the same pace.

This calls for an Organizational Change Management (OCM) across all the levels right from the company workforce, managers, leaders to the vendors and customer. “What got you here won’t get you there” is apt in today’s VUCA world where technology landscape is changing so quickly that employees are constantly in a catching up situation when it comes to their skills.

There are 4 million people working in the IT and ITES industry in the country, but out of them only 680,000 are skilled in digital technologies. Now, the industry body, together with IT companies, targets to skill 4 million people in digital technologies by 2025. Companies are partnering with institutions such as National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) to make their curricula more industry specific in line with the growing dominance of future technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.

Before defining the digital reskilling plan, it is imperative for the companies to first define their overall Digital Transformation strategy. The strategy should consider following inputs:

  • Current digital landscape of the organization to put together its current offerings
  • Its current skill database
  • Analyzing the business pipeline to understand customer requirements w.r.t. digital technologies
  • Connect with its strategic customers to understand their business landscape, challenges and growth plans
  • Based on these inputs, companies need to identify the short term and long-term skill gaps and then define its digital reskilling strategy.

Learning will be most effective when it is done with a clear purpose and the learning is put in practice with minimal time lag. The purpose could be reskilling for a research work or a customer project that needs to be worked upon within a specified timeframe. Most of the skilling/re-skilling initiatives fail because of lack of focus and objective.

Many large IT services companies are investing heavily on e-learning platforms to make the whole digital skilling strategy more scalable. Companies are also tying up with some of the premier technical and management institutes to offer 3-6 months spaced learning virtual certification programs, which is helping organizations as one of the employee incentives and retention strategies. Global surveys also indicate that the digital skill premium is anywhere from 10 to 30%. Companies are also investing in digital labs to provide employees ready platforms to play and experiment the technologies they are learning, create prototypes and even co-creating POCs along with their strategic customers.

Another aspect that companies need to look at is to embrace the Digital Transformation within their own processes to give employees that digital experience within their own work environment by adopting AI, IoT, Chatbots and BI into their day to day business processes such as hiring, onboarding, MIS, etc. This sets the right environment for not only the employees but also for the customers that companies are adopting to the digitization even internally. This digitization can be insourced as crowd sourcing projects by floating the business problems and challenges to its employees and asking them to come up with solutions. Even through adopting the Agile software development methodology, companies can be more poised to react fast to the changes.

Digital skill building cannot be an isolated initiative anchored by the Learning and Development function, but it needs to be a strategic initiative sponsored by the company executives such as the Chief Digital Officer. The Digital Transformation strategy should address talent development, talent management, adopting digital technologies to automate company’s own business processes, create digital labs and co-create digital services and solutions along with customers.

To be responsive to such dynamic digital landscape, companies need to have a fast, closed-loop system which can react quickly to these changes!

Manoj Apte
Manoj Apte
Head - L&D, Birlasoft
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