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Most of you are certainly aware of the importance of Digital Transformation for your future business. And many of you have heard about new skills evolving, which are essential to be successful – including Machine Learning, Blockchain, Big Data Analytics and Cloud Computing. This has also been one of the findings from a recent study on this topic.

However, many companies still lack a workforce with these skills. One of the potential explanations for this skills gap is that – considering the increasing speed of technological innovation, it might be challenging to catch up with up-to-date skills. In the digital economy, knowledge has a shorter shelf life than it had in the past, even though its value has rapidly increased.

This lack of skills was also confirmed by a quick poll during a recent webinar on this topic: “How to Successfully Manage Your Company’s Digital Transformation by Overcoming the Digital Skills Gap”. Almost two thirds of the participants stated that they do not have enough personnel with the skills necessary for the Digital Transformation of their company.

The important question is: why and where should you start with a structured approach to developing these skills?

Technological innovations have the potential for competitiveness as well as significant economic and social benefits by enabling performance growth and productivity opportunities for businesses and the economy. But there is also consensus that the digital economy will reshape the future of work and will require new skills.

To help companies with this challenge, SAP has introduced a maturity model created in collaboration with the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS). This model helps companies prepare for the digital future by assessing the current state of their skill development progression and defining their skill development strategy. Companies can use the maturity model as a guideline for defining, implementing and adapting their skill development approach to digital transformation.

The maturity model is structured into three key enablers of effective skill development for digital transformation and four relevant learning architecture dimensions how skill gaps are assessed and new skills are developed.

Being asked to rate the dimensions from their perspective in a second quick poll during the webinar, participants came up with the following top 3:

  1. Skill Management (34%)
  2. Culture (24%)
  3. Absorptive Capacity (17%)

While these results are certainly not representative, I strongly believe that these three dimensions are well worth considering on a digital transformation journey.

Here’s my recommendation – and I am curious to learn whether you agree with it:

  • Foster a culture of learning and skill development.

With new technologies, all roles within an organization need to continuously update their skills. Learning for the digital economy should not be an afterthought, but one of the first steps in your digital transformation journey. Companies clearly need to communicate that skill development is an important success factor for the company and the individual.

  • Encourage your employees to acquire new skills continuously.

The digital economy fueled requires to keep knowledge up-to-date and to stay current as current skills are a “must” and not just a “nice to have.” Effective capability-building companies encourage employees to develop their skills continuously. Companies need to develop new ways to put employees in charge of the learning experience. Establish learning as a continuous process, not an episodic event, and as a company-wide responsibility, not one confined to HR. Employees have to take responsibility for developing their skills continuously over the course of their careers.

  • Have a skill transformation program in place to systematically identify and close skill gaps.

Taking a systematic approach to skills development ensures that you identify and close skills gaps for digital transformation. At the same time, this helps you channel educational investment toward maximizing business impact and facilitating meaningful learning experiences for employees.

What are your thoughts on this? I’d be interested in which skills-related topics you and your organization are struggling with on your respective digital transformation journey.

I am going to share more details about concrete next steps with you in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

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