Digital is fast becoming - if not already - a necessity for many industries, meaning employers need to ensure their workforce are skilled in this area. It's widely recognized that machine learning, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, and other emerging technologies are going to have an impact on business. It could even make the difference between firms that maintain a competitive advantage and those that lag behind.
However, a worryingly large number of organizations don't have a strategy in place to ensure all their employees become digitally savvy, and are able to maintain it as the technology predictably evolves further.
The digital skills gap, which is likely to only grow, is a substantial problem for businesses around the world. Demand is so high that specialist professionals have their pick of organizations and sectors to work in, leaving many without the talent they need.
However, there's another solution; upskill your current employees. This itself requires investment and preparation, but can be achieved.
Creating a digital transformation strategy
It's likely that your organization has already identified the technologies it needs to educate itself in, which forms the basis of a digital transformation strategy. With the technological expansion, there are endless opportunities and it's impossible to invest your time and effort into all of them at once. Putting together a strategy will help you, if you've not already, identify the most-pressing areas you need to explore as a business.
A priority from the start needs to be investing in training to give your employees a strong foundation around what your current digital capabilities are. This will give them a better understanding of how new technologies will fit into the business structure as their own - and the company's - skill set evolves.
It's worth putting a lot of time and effort into creating your company's digital transformation strategy and use it to identify any potential pitfalls you may encounter. This will help it become a more valuable resource for everyone as your business develops in this area.
This document should evolve alongside your skill offering and infrastructure, and as you face obstacles. Having an organic document that changes as your needs and capabilities do will make it much more worthwhile for the future.
A comprehensive strategy will also make sure that everybody, across departments, is aware of what goals the company has and how employees are being prepared to get there. This ensures that the workforce and new candidates get a consistent approach, giving you the best results.
Implementing your strategy and engaging employees
When you have a digital transformation strategy, you can start to work with managers and other informed people within the company to identify the employees that would be most responsive to it. For many organizations, upskilling everyone at the same time can be a logistical nightmare, so working with a target group of employees will help onboard new skills, while also identifying any major problems before it's rolled out to the rest of the company.
These individuals should be employees that are already engaged in the business and its goals, with technical savvy where possible. This is because people who have already demonstrated that they are bought into the company are likely to be more responsive to internal training. Ideally, the target group would upskill themselves with the support of the company and then go on to train others. This means you need to identify employees that are looking to make a career at your organization, as well as those looking to improve their skill set.
A systematic approach
When it comes to training up employees, it's important that they - and you as a business - are very honest about where you currently are. Adopting a systematic and thorough approach to your skills development ensures that you identify where you have the biggest gaps and what success looks like for your company.
You will then need to outline a number of activities that will help the business achieve its digital transformation goals. Online learning centers make it possible for organizations to measure and track the progress of their employees, and the impact this is having on the wider business.
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