Move over Gordon Ramsey. We’ve got the secret recipe to digital success.
Digital Transformation – a term loved and loathed in equal measure. Loved by those who see and understand its potential to make how we work simpler and smarter thanks to digital technology. But loathed by those who, understandably, fear job losses and insecurity, being demoted by digital native graduates or overrun by robots.
But fear not! There is light at the end of the tunnel and assurance that you don’t need a Masters in Artificial Intelligence and a PHD in Blockchain to survive the dreaded Digital Transformation lurking around the corner.
Haven’t you ever bought a few bits online when your boss wasn’t looking, ordered the Saturday night takeaway via an app, hailed an Uber from your phone, enjoyed a little Tesco Click and Collect, or gotten a bit merry on the Zoom quiz with your friends? If you’ve answered yes to any of these then you’re digital, baby!
Covid in many ways accelerated the digital transformation in many businesses and in peoples’ personal lives because, as they say, must-do is a great master. But seriously, it shouldn’t take a global pandemic to push us out of our comfort zones. We now need to build on that momentum and beat the temptation to fall back into old habits. And we’re here to help.
Undeniably, technology is essential for digital transformation. The clue is in the name. But no digital transformation, or transformation of any kind, will be successful without the right skills and competencies in the workforce. We’ve all heard lots about the hard skills most in-demand by employers in 2020 – Blockchain, Cloud Computing, Analytical Reasoning – and most of us probably reached for the wine and cried ourselves to sleep reminiscing on the good old days of filing cabinets and landline calls.
If that was you, you’ve come to the right place. Or indeed, if you’re embracing the digital future for your workforce but are a little unsure where it all begins, you will be equally intrigued by our three-ingredient no fuss recipe to digital transformation success. And you might all breathe a collective sigh of relief that it doesn’t involve robots, virtual reality or computing in the clouds.
This isn’t about the technologies and hard skills needed to make digital transformations work. Rather, it’s a focus on the necessary soft skills (personality traits and behaviours) which are arguably more important because digital transformation means more than upgrading or buying in new IT systems. It requires a complete cultural shift, a completely new way of doing things – and this is what scares people most.
Let’s face it. We all hate change, and change breeds suspicion and fear which strangle innovation, and that’s why many digital transformations fail.
Our recipe to success doesn’t focus on cutting-edge technologies, but rather on three competencies – Confidence, Creativity, Collaboration.
So while you may not be qualified in AI, VR or UX Design, you may well have either confidence, creativity or collaboration under your belt. Some of your colleagues might possess all three of these sought-after soft skills, while you might struggle on a few. And that’s fine too because digital transformation is a journey, not a goal. So it’s OK to make mistakes, to get it wrong, to ask for help, to think out aloud, to listen, to learn and to be afraid.
Which leads us to our first ingredient for digital transformation success:
Digital technology has played an increasing role in our daily lives for decades. From when Facebook first burst onto the scene in 2004, to Instagram, TikTok, Alexa… You weren’t afraid to download those apps, buy a device you talk to in your home, or become an amateur photographer and videographer. So why not embrace digital transformation at work in the same boss way?! Employees need to be key drivers of digital transformation. If you’re at the coalface of a process or department, aren’t you best placed to point out inefficiencies where technology can help? I’ll answer for you. YES! So own it, and don’t be afraid! It’s alright if Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the Cloud make you more anxious than the plot of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Inception, but you don’t need to have a degree in Coding or User Experience Design to make suggestions and recommendations. And most importantly, remember you don’t need to be the doer of all the digital tasks. There will be experts to do the more specialist roles. But having IT or digital-specific qualifications doesn’t make these people any more important than you in a digital transformation. The entire workforce has to understand the vision and true success requires everyone to chip in. Empowered employees will help make digital solutions, and ultimately transformation, more achievable. Just don’t be afraid to fail.
LinkedIn’s list of the most in-demand soft skills of 2020 is headed by creativity for the third consecutive year, and it’s hardly surprising. In this context, creativity isn’t about being the next Van Gough. It just means you need to learn, adjust and be open to new things. There obviously is a technical aspect, but don’t be blinded by that. Be creative in what training you ask for at work, in how you approach tasks old and new, and in how you use new tools and apply them beyond what they’re intended for. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and approach everyday tasks innovatively. You don’t need to be Steve Jobs to make a few well-informed suggestions. But you do need to be confident to speak up. (See ingredient 1 above) And if you are really scared about automation and machine-learning, you need to realise that creativity and creative thinking are all the more important in the battle for survival!
Hardly surprising that this is the fifth most in-demand soft skill globally for 2020, according to LinkedIn. Collaboration makes everything easier, but surprisingly it’s something a lot of us are very bad at. Work closely with your colleagues, transcend departments, share information, ask for help and give help when needed. It’s important to stress the importance of collaboration from a top down perspective too, so listen up bosses. Involving the workforce in decisions which are going to affect their day-to-day is key to buy-in and ultimately success. Poor communication and a dictatorial approach cause suspicion and can be major roadblocks to digital transformation. Have regular team talks, town halls, internal surveys, Friday drinks. Make it fun and engaging and most importantly, make the team feel involved because an empowered workforce will work harder if they feel part of the process.
Then just blend these three ingredients together and voila! There won’t be a rule book or an instruction manual, so workforces need to learn to think creatively, with confidence, and to collaborate.
Of course there are other soft skills essential for a successful digital transformation and while some of the skills may already exist in some staff, others may need more specific training – especially at management level. And that is where strong leaders and forward-thinking Learning and Development and HR teams come to the fore.
They need to be able to identify key soft skills gaps, as well as highlight staff who are particularly strong already in key areas. Can they be promoted, or brought into a team of digital peer mentors? Training and upskilling staff is both empowering and inspiring and it makes us want to learn more. Key here is critical thinking, communication, flexibility and agility.
Either way, what it boils down to is a business or company’s ability to set a vision, communicate it effectively and empower and inspire the workforce to be a part of the success.
I hear you though, 2020 has been terrifying enough without this to add to the mix. But digital transformation isn’t just about processes and clients; at its core is building better workplaces. And that should make you smile, not cry your eyes out in the toilets at lunchtime.
Written by Alana Fearon
If you want to know more about Digital Transformation educational support for your workplace drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org