A lot has been said about digital transformation lately. And deservedly so. The so-called “4th industrial revolution” has become an unstoppable force in the last few years, developing quickly and affecting society, economy and labour market utterly in the process.

Undoubtedly, this digital metamorphosis promises to be a challenging, beneficial and stimulating process for organizations, whose purpose is to enhance their productivity and performance with a view to accomplish their business goals. And in order to achieve that they must follow two lines of action: on the one hand, they must invest on digital skills and, on the other hand, on leaders capable of being the driving force behind that shift.

In this manner, the companies’ priorities, broadly speaking, should be grounded in retaining digital talent, developing the digital skills of their employees and promoting leadership attitudes in senior management positions.

However, transforming an organization digitally utilizing the latest technological improvements, so that entrepreneurial processes become automated, is not enough to make the most out of the business; without development of the human factor, success in this regard is not possible.

 

Cultural change

The internet of things, Big Data, artificial intelligence or mobile technologies, among others, are here to stay, influencing directly in our trends regarding our daily life and consumer habits. Therefore, many experts consider that this phenomenon should be studied from the point of view of anthropology, rather than from a technological approach, since, after all, it’s a cultural change that has an overall impact on our way of life.

This conversion entails a challenge not only for companies, inasmuch as they have to optimize their production, organization and administration systems, but also for people and, therefore, for professionals, since this metamorphosis in the understanding of human activities has a direct effect on working environments. New tools brought by technology make this change something continuous, so professional profiles must adapt progressively to the requirements of an ever-evolving labour market.

 

Consequences

Among the positive consequences this process is giving rise to, the improvement in our standard of living and quality of life during recent times is something that we all are pretty much aware of.

On a professional level, there’s a clear trend towards focusing more on objective-and-result-based projects, a fact that will encourage the emergence of a greater number of entrepreneurs compared to hired people in a traditional business. In addition, having a smaller staff, due to the reduction in labour costs implemented by companies, could entail a salary increase for qualified professionals.

Likewise, ongoing training of individuals during their whole working life will be a prerequisite should they want to have a job and perform their duties efficiently. This transformation requires that employees understand and have a command of new technologies better than ever before, but for that to happen they need the adequate tools and skills to participate successfully in that technological revolution. This way they’ll be of great use for companies, since they’ll become a safe bet in order to maintain and improve competitiveness.

However, another parallel reality generating uncertainty, to say the least, is the destruction and extinction of trades at the hands of artificial intelligence, which will prompt the demise of jobs with little added value. But similarly, it’s also the perfect environment for new jobs that didn’t exist previously to arise.

Another widespread problem is that governments are not following the pace of this technological transformation. Ideally, the training of future workers should adequate to the requirements of the market they’ll dive into when they finish studies, so it would be advisable to reconsider study plans, focusing on STEM subjects, in other words, those related with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, without overlooking humanities.

 

Guide to digital transformation management

Roughly speaking, the roadmap to implement a successful digital transformation on the part of organizations would depend on assessing the state of digital culture and talent inside the company (organizational structure, skills, available technology, state of leadership, among others), in order to identify key areas where to act upon and pinpoint the opportunities and challenges that will be encountered during the process.

After that, a clear and convincing digital vision of the future scenario to be carried out should be developed, and for that to happen it’s essential to involve management teams and relevant actors inside the organization in the process. This is the time to question the rules and the traditional operational strategy of the company, and to embrace new ideas and perspectives with a view to transformation.

Likewise, the roadmap regarding areas such as technology, skills, organization, relevant actors, costs, leadership or HR framework must be deployed and brought into operation. There must be continuous communication regarding the chosen approach and all parties must be involved in order to implement it.

This process will lead to new ways of doing things: job positions will be defined differently, organizations will become more fluent and less hierarchical, new ways of communication will be introduced and a bet will be placed on new leadership skills. Everything altogether will make the generational gap between younger employees, with more developed digital skills, and their senior colleagues, who provide their knowledge and expertise, arise to help fostering a new kind of fellowship eventually.

In addition to this, digital leadership must be developed in order to create the professional profiles that are to be incorporated into the company, which will be destined to lead and direct the transformation process. Besides, the organization must have an adequate HR software tool to manage talent efficiently.

Another step to follow is to transform the culture of the organization, how duties are performed and the way members interact with each other. It should be also advisable to introduce a global digital technology in which social and analytical mobile technologies are identified, as well as ensuring integration, data transferring, conveyance of ideas and business feedback.

Besides that, digital talent abilities should be enhanced through a learning culture based on a continuous update regarding skills and knowledge, and for that to happen a wide range of tools should be available.

Finally, the progress made should be compared and measured again to assess if the proposed business objectives have been achieved and to locate those areas that need improvement.

All of the above must be set within a framework of acceptance of digital transformation, as an ever-evolving step forward in the right direction that should be replicated regularly while the digital and technological environment we live and work in continues to develop.

 

Sources: Global Thinking, Expansión, EUDE Business School

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