Digital Transformation – the people perspective Point of View

04 Januari 2018

Does your talent gap hurt as much as mine?

As a person I have always been very much about Change. In my work I change roles every couple of years and even within a role I always look at new  initiatives to pick up, new skills to learn or new people to meet. At home I also embrace change, e.g. I have moved house over 25 times, I love to move my furniture around, I tend to find new ways of archiving my administration or find new storage spaces. The latter two tend to make sense when I think of them, but then 6 months later I forget where I hid the stupid things. This is to prove that change is not always a good thing :-). A difficult thing to admit for a person like me. But luckily, we live in interesting times: change is all around us, especially with the digital transformation that most companies are striving for. So, on a professional level I am completely in my element. Especially with my special interest in people, being an organizational psychologist in IT, in many different roles. As a business developer and innovation manager for Capgemini Academy I have the privilege to talk to many executives and professionals about their digital ambitions and how to involve people to realize these ambitions. Also, I read about it, discuss it with peers in the business (externally) and colleagues within my company (internationally). The digital talent gap is something very close to my heart and I would like to share my findings with you.


So, in this series of blogs I will focus on the people perspective of Digital Transformation. Giving you some insights about why this is important and how to change it. In this first blog I focus on the “why” and give ideas on what skills to focus on.


The why: Why are people so important in digital transformations?

In the digital era, the business climate is changing rapidly and people need to keep up with this. On one hand we see the “hard” side of digital transformation: cash focused, digitally enabled, data driven and fact based. On the other hand we see: a more human approach, focus on sustainability, intuition as an asset, design thinking to stimulate creativity and the power of group genius popping up. In this era the Digital Masters outperform their peers in revenue, market valuation and profitability. However, we see that digital maturity varies amongst organizations and even industries, where financial services companies tend to be the frontrunners leading the pack and the pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies tend to be the followers more likely to follow the pack.


How to make sense of these seemingly conflicting developments and define your digital ambitions, but more importantly, how to involve the most important asset of your organization, who need to make it happen: your people?


In order to increase the speed of digital innovation, people need to be curious about and have the skills to realize digital innovations. They need to be able to collaborate and learn on a global scale. And they need to be sustainably employable in a fast changing world. To support these 3 important elements: people need to be inspired and facilitated in learning with digital innovative ideas and skills to increase workplace performance. Digital transformation is not a top-down program only, it needs to be supported by bottom-up idea generation and realization power from the professionals who do the work.


People (and their leadership) need to be aware of how digital trends will impact their work and roles. Digital strategies and the fusion of ‘Man and Machine’ result in major role changes: completely new roles will be created, hybrid roles will emerge, roles will change and roles will disappear. Examples of completely new roles are: data scientists, robot developers, artificial intelligence engineers and desing thinkers. Examples of hybrid roles are people working with augmented reality, like ‘cyborgs’ with exoskeletons doing heavy lifting or inspectors using drones.


The question is whether you are prepared to optimize your most important asset: your people. Do you know who in your organization is at risk of replacement? How much are you spending recruiting and onboarding roles that will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, etc. in 5 Years? How to fast track them with future-proof skills? What skills should you be looking for that are ‘future-proof’? How many of your Top Performers are at risk of Technological displacement? What are the regional and social implications? What roles & skills to recruit?


And it is not just roles and skills that must change. Culture is also a big hurdle to overcome. 62% of companies interviewed by Capgemini* say that their own corporate culture is the biggest hurdle on the way to business model transformation. The good news is that cultural change is possible and measurable. This needs to be assessed and intervened upon around 8 elements: collaboration, entrepreneurship, agility, customers orientation, digital technologies & process, autonomous working conditions, digital leadership and the combination of innovation & learning.


When it comes to digital talent and skills, we see that both hard skills and soft skills are very important. In fact, most companies found the lack of relevant soft skills to be more of a problem (59%) than the hard skills (51%). The hard skills that are lacking are skills such as: cybersecurity, cloud, analytics as well as big data and master data management, web development, mobile app design, Innovation Strategy and UI design. The soft skills that are focused on most are: customer centricity, passion for learning, comfort with ambiguity (the biggest gag), collaboration, data driven decision making, organization dexterity, entrepreneurship (again) and change management.


In conclusion, the Digital Talent Gap exists in most organizations. And “it hurts”. It hurts badly. And if this problem is not solved digital people will leave the company, recruitment will become more difficult, the company will lose its competitive edge and in the end threaten profitability due to lack of innovation power. So why is it so difficult to bridge the gap and what are new ways to solve this problem? In the next blog of this series I will focus on the challenges organizations face in dealing with the digital talent gap and how to bridge this. 


Next blog: 'Digital learning: it will never be the same again', February 2018


Interested in the subject?

Click here to register for Petra's webinar on 'The Digital Talent Gap'.



Petra Hendriksen