Digital Transformation Demands Skills Transformation

Your organization’s survival depends on transforming your business to embrace the promise of digital. But first, you must transform your employees’ skills.

Written by Aaron Skonnard
Published on Dec. 09, 2020
Digital Transformation Demands Skills Transformation
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The biggest lesson for technologists in a post-COVID world is this: Not only is digital transformation the key driver for delivering innovative products and services with a digital workforce, but it might be the only driver for the very survival of many businesses.

In my conversations with Pluralsight customers, including CIOs and CTOs at some of the biggest technology organizations in the world, the ability to accelerate digital transformation efforts has been the No. 1 concern. This is for good reason. As businesses fight to stay competitive in an increasingly difficult business climate, the ability to take advantage of the benefits of digital transformation initiatives becomes a competitive advantage.


Skills Fuel the Engine of Change

As technology leaders look to accelerate digital transformation efforts, one of the consistent themes we see is that there are significant gaps between the skills needed to implement new projects such as cloud computing, machine learning or AI and the knowledge base of rank and file employees. Organizations are struggling mightily to find and attract talented minds that can help them implement business-critical technology projects.

For digital transformation initiatives to be successful, organizations need the requisite technology skills to power them. As a result, many technology leaders are learning that, not only must they invest in the latest tools and technologies to stay competitive — but that investing in the skills of their teams is an equally important strategic maneuver.


Designing a World-Class Skills Development Strategy

The most successful technology organizations in the world operate with a few common guiding principles when it comes to building out teams with world-class skill sets. They have an innate understanding of the strategic advantage that their collective teams’ skills can provide the business, and they invest in growing that advantage accordingly.

With that in mind, here are four considerations that technology leaders, business leaders, and L&D professionals must consider when designing a skills development program that can serve as a strategic advantage for the business:

  1. Adopt a strategic mindset. The organizations that most successfully tackle digital transformation initiatives recognize that skills development is an important ingredient in their overall technology strategy. When considering massive technology investments, they also consider the teams’ overall ability to not only deploy, but to get the most out of that investment. Skills development becomes an important component of the investment and helps ensure that ROI remains high.
  2. Map upskilling to the most important projects. Many of our most successful customers are able to map skills initiatives to their most important projects. Consider Verizon, which implemented a strategic learning program called Learning 2.0. The program centers on aligning upskilling programs with initiatives that drive their business forward, including 5G and future-of-work programs.
  3. Accelerate people’s learning journeys. The central focus of any strong upskilling program should be on ensuring that learners have every tool at their disposal to accelerate their learning journey. To accomplish that, it’s important to recognize the need for multiple kinds of learning modalities. Hands-on learning is especially valuable in this regard, particularly when dealing with technologies such as cloud computing or security. The ability to provide learning opportunities in multiple modalities, including on-demand courses, virtual classroom learning opportunities, and hands-on education in lab environments — and to do it virtually to a distributed workforce — is more important than ever as we look for ways to help workers upskill.
  4. The right partner makes all the difference. As technology organizations look to build skills at scale, they must choose skill development partners with the necessary tools to pull it all together. It’s imperative to align with a partner that can map upskilling programs to the most strategic technology initiatives while providing multiple learning methods to deliver the fastest possible path to skills development.

Organizations that win understand that, as they transform their business to embrace the promise of digital, they must transform their employee base to ensure that they have the requisite skills for not only today’s projects, but for those in the future. Our ability to not only survive but thrive in a challenging business environment depends on it.

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