Digital business transformation is a people problem: here’s why (and what you can do about it)

A new report by Salesforce and IDC has highlighted the sheer scale of the digital skills crisis and is urging governments and businesses alike to make upskilling and reskilling a priority, to aid in the post-pandemic recovery. The report outlines how, if the skills gap remains unchanged, ‘by 2030, nine out of 10 workers will need to learn new skills to do their jobs, at a cost of £1.3 billion a year.’

Another IDC study has an equally concerning messaging, finding that 37% of unemployed people in the UK are fantastic candidates for reskilling, as they are educated to an advanced level and hold relevant skillsets for these much-needed tech roles. So what’s going wrong?

The impact of coronavirus on digital transformation

The pandemic completely changed the way we live and work overnight. The rapid shift to remote working and increase in demand for online retail services created a perfect storm for the tech sphere. The result? A huge wave of work to be done and not enough professionals to do it.

“Coronavirus was the trigger for many companies to finally kickstart their digital transformation after delaying the inevitable,” observes Amanda Beard-Neilson, Portfolio Manager at Capgemini.This type of transformation can be a bit risky as quick decisions have to be made based on the situation. In the case of Covid-19, many companies had to improvise.”

And the impact this has had on the talent market is staggering. According to a 2020 survey by GlobalData, 46% of pharmaceutical and healthcare professionals in C-suite roles ranked a ‘lack of specific skills and talent’ as the number one barrier to digital transformation in the industry, a trend that has developed across countless industries over the last few years.

Naturally, this has resulted in heated competition between companies for the best tech talent, which brings with it a hefty price tag for good employees. Now we’re seeing smaller businesses struggle to grow their operations as they don’t have the right skills on board, mainly as they are being priced out by larger enterprises with far bigger budgets.

So the question is this: how can you make sure your organization has the resources it needs to not only keep up with digital transformation projects, but future proof your operations too?

Digital transformation: what’s next for businesses?

Ultimately, it boils down to having the right people and processes in place to support digital transformation long-term. It’s not just about transforming a business but keeping up with all the latest developments in tech. And the key to putting the customer first lies in making sure you have the talent to get the most out of the technology you’ve invested in.

There is a genuine lack of quality talent in the market who can help steer a company through their digital transformation,” says Amanda. “You need experience to help businesses make the right decisions otherwise it will add risk to the delivery outcome.

Organizations the world over are taking decisive action to bridge the skills gap, bring fresh talent into the tech ecosystem, and are raising the bar for digital transformation.

As we adjust to our new normal, companies should now take stock of their changes and audit to see which ones are working and which require further tweaking,” says Amanda. “We are acknowledging that we will not be going back to old ways, so it will be a good opportunity for businesses to place more solid foundations on the new processes that have been formed.”

Here are a few ways you can revamp your digital strategy as an organization, starting right now.

1. Future-proof your talent needs

It’s easy enough to know what roles your business needs to fill right now. But if we’ve learnt anything from the pandemic, it’s that organizations need to think long-term and be able to pivot at a moment’s notice.

To help with this, figure out what you want your wider business to look like in the next 6-12 months, not just your team. Hire with that vision firmly in mind and you could save time and money later down the line, which would otherwise be spent continuously filling roles.

But digital transformation isn’t just about finding the right talent—you need to make sure you can retain it. With competition between employers at an all-time high, employee retention needs to be front and centre for any forward-thinking business.

To that end, it’s worth rethinking your benefits package to make sure they reflect the needs and wants of tech professionals today. Salesforce MVP Christine Marshall says:

“Companies need to ensure they stand out from the crowd and stay relevant with both their hiring approach and benefits. Gone are the days of pool tables and beer fridges. We want companies that consistently demonstrate a proactive approach to diversity and equal rights. We’re looking for businesses that want to invest in their employees and promote a healthy work-life balance.”

Tech professionals are among the most highly motivated when it comes to knowing more about their craft. One of the best ways to build employee loyalty is by supporting your people through training and investing in their learning and development.

If budgets are tight, consider offering your team study hours that they can use to read up on the latest developments in tech and prepare for those all-important certification exams. It might seem like a small detail, but there’s nothing more valuable giving your team the support they need to succeed.

2. Tap into fresh talent pipelines

Digital transformation isn’t a tech problem—it’s a people problem. You can have the biggest budgets in the world and buy the best technology money can buy, but without the skills you need to wield new technologies, that fancy new piece of software is just going to gather dust.

“Companies have many options available to them to overcome the talent crisis. They should consider apprenticeship schemes or re-training and promoting existing employees,” says Salesforce MVP Christine Marshall.Those with a background in sales, sales support, or analytics, for example, are already equipped with business understanding and soft skills.”

With universities unable to produce qualified talent at a rate needed to keep up with demand, companies clamouring to roll out digital transformation projects are having to slow down and re-think their timelines. This, in turn, translates to potentially losing customers and market share to competitors.

To combat this, some companies are even taking graduate schemes one step further, creating their own academies to create that much-needed talent. Another more cost-effective route involves working with talent creation programs like Revolent to get exactly the skills you need for your team without breaking the bank.

Partnering with talent creation experts gives you an unrivalled opportunity to add value to your team while helping to bridge the skills gap in tech, helping the wider ecosystem thrive in turn.

3. Do more for diversity and inclusion

While significant strides have been made in favour of diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives over the last few years, there’s a lot of work yet to be done, particularly after the setbacks we saw in 2020 and most of 2021.

Take gender equality, for example. It’s no secret that women tend to shoulder the majority of childcare responsibilities—a fact that was found to be true even with both parents working from home throughout the pandemic. Between childcare, home schooling, housework, and a full-time job, burnout becomes a very real possibility, and the tendency is that women in tech can feel nudged out of their careers as a result.

It’s up to employers to foster more acceptance and awareness of the lifestyle differences between genders, which seem to leave women at a disadvantage. Offering initiatives like returnships and flexible hours are a fantastic way to create a more empathetic, inclusive culture, but working with specialist hiring partners is the best way to pave the way for lasting change in the industry.

“Companies should proactively seek out diverse suppliers when they are purchasing goods or services,” says Eric Dreshfield, ITequality Executive Advisor and Salesforce MVP Hall of Famer.To help facilitate this process, I would recommend that businesses set up a registry, where diverse suppliers can provide the company with details about the products and services they sell.”

Finally, if we’re to see real impact across the tech industry, then diversity and inclusion need to be championed from board-level down. Boosting visibility for your D&I initiatives is more important than ever as the demand for a more inclusive ecosystem intensifies, and the need for a wider hiring pool becomes more urgent.

Looking for talent to support you in your digital transformation journey? We’ve got you covered. Find out exactly how we work with our clients to help them find skilled, diverse talent and reach their objectives without breaking the bank.

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