April 7, 2021

Digital Transformation = Talent Transformation

Digital Business Transformation is the key focus for 2021 following a tumultuous year. As the COVID-19 pandemic upended the way work was done, and consumers shifted how they interacted with their favorite brands, a spotlight was shown on the human capability to quickly learn, and adapt to new situations. For many of us, this meant working from home, Zoom calls (or classrooms), as well as the need to alter our assumptions about our jobs, and how we did them.

Talent Management and Digital Transformation Are Directly Linked

In order to create, transform, and progress business, you need the right talent to do it. According to Gartner “through 2023, inadequate talent management will cause 60 percent of digital transformation failures.” This is a powerful statistic because every business that is thinking about its future may not have the ability to achieve that vision. Instead, projects and programs will fail, or the vision will be sacrificed to fit with the capabilities of the organization.

This is why so many digitally-native companies are quickly eroding legacy organizations’ market cap in rapid time. Stripe has reached a valuation of nearly $100 billion in 10 years’ time because of its vision and ability to execute that vision with the talent it has hired and nurtured internally.

One reason for this erosion is that the half-life of skills is shrinking, becoming approximately 5 years. If you consider the average individual career to last 30 years, the importance of training and enablement is not a nice-to-have, but rather a need-to-have.

This raises questions: what are you doing to keep your workforce’s skills up to date? What projects has the organization wanted to accomplish but couldn’t because there wasn’t capability or capacity available?

Skills-first Approach to Digital Transformation

Regardless of your future vision, every organization needs the right teams to accomplish the goal. But many organizations are “finding it increasingly difficult to quickly find and develop talent with the most in-demand skills, yet 58 percent of the workforce needs new skills to get their jobs done.” This presents an untenable predicament. You need the right skills, but you can’t find them easily. Like having a broken pipe and no plumber, most organizations try and get by with some duct tape instead of saying, “maybe I should train someone to be a plumber.” Actually, most organizations don’t even know they already employ five or six of them who could do the job now or in the immediate future with training.

According to Alison Smith, Director of Gartner’s HR Practice, “companies can look at current employees who have skills closely matched to those in demand and utilize training to close any gaps” in order to accomplish their goals. This starts with understanding the skills of your employees frequently and automatically. Talent Intelligence Platforms are essential for this. Using these platforms can give leaders across domains an accurate, real-time understanding of their organizational capabilities to make the right decisions. As we see the conversation around the “Internet of Things” become prevalent, I want to create a challenge. Why don’t we also focus on the “Internet of Beings?”

We need to be focus on the reskilling and upskilling needed to be ready for what the future holds. Whether your focus is global digital business transformation, or a leaking faucet, the approach is still the same: figure out what skills you have, what skills you’ll need, and how to connect that gap.

John Brown, SVP & CHRO of BlueCross Blue Shield of Louisiana, makes it clear:

The skills that were relevant just a few months ago are a little less relevant now. And there are a number of skills that are predominant and very important — not only now, but looking into the future. That makes it really important for us to be on the front end of acknowledging where there are opportunities.

The biggest opportunity for every company is enabling the development and growth of its employees. That starts with knowing the skills you have, using talent intelligence. Further, we need to stop thinking about employees and people as just the skills they have today. They should be viewed through the lens of what they can learn.

You shouldn’t hire someone just on the skills they currently demonstrate and their employment history, just like you shouldn’t base your organization’s future on what it’s done in the past. Like humans, organizations evolve over time and need to be flexible. Both have the potential to grow.