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Digital transformation learnings from the understairs cupboard

February 22, 2019

Steve Jenkins   

Vice President, Solution Sales, Europe, Tata Communications

Clearing out my understairs cupboard for the first time in a very long time, amongst the dust and the odd dead insect, I came across an old work bag. Buried within its bowels was an old article that spoke about new technology and how its adoption was going to change drastically the organisations in which we work. However, rather interestingly, it didn’t mention one word about people. And it got me thinking – while many organisations in the technology industry have the ingredients to grow smartly in the digital era, I wonder if they are doing enough to nurture their biggest asset – people. And, could they learn more from others?

At the heart of digital transformation

The global business landscape is undergoing a fundamental shift. We’re now living and operating in a world that’s being changed almost beyond recognition by new technologies such as big data analytics, cloud, AI and machine learning, IoT, blockchain, and so on. These innovations are disrupting markets and businesses, driving them to re-think how they operate.

In this new context, the success of an organisation’s digital transformation journey is not limited to technology adoption or innovation. A huge part of digital transformation is the people who enable this very fundamental change and make it real. That is why a winning digital strategy requires employees to have – and be able to – adopt the right skills, and a curiosity to learn these new skills. It’s about being agile and adaptive to change to be able to ride the digital transformation wave. Ultimately, it’s about ensuring that organisations are able to remain competitive in this digital age, and not get left behind more nimble industry newcomers.

One of the key reasons digital success eludes organisations is a failure to recognise that employees are at the heart of digital transformation.

Unleashing potential

Forward-looking organisations relentlessly innovate by investing in talent through various learning and development programmes, embracing and encouraging diversity and ensuring employees are at the forefront of technology. But they also realise that this alone is not enough. They also foster and encourage working with other organisations, in partnership.

The inspiration and innovation that can be born out of different organisations joining forces to pitch ideas and co-create have huge value. It helps unleash new opportunities for growth for the benefit of all partners, while accelerating learning, increasing understanding and boosting agility for everyone involved. In fact, I’d argue that this co-creation – this practical application of knowledge and insight across organisational boundaries – does more to develop individuals and their skills than internal training and development programmes alone.

It’s been said that many entering university today will be working in job roles that don’t yet exist, using technology yet to be created. As the breakneck speed of technology innovation continues, driving further digital transformation across industries, it is imperative for businesses to anticipate the changes ahead and prepare for the future.

While some have painted a bleak picture of a world where machines will take over the world, I am confident that the future is bright, with humans and technology working side by side for the benefit of businesses, the digital economy and communities worldwide. The key to future success is to nurture a culture of continuous learning, while engaging and partnering with other organisations to share insights and innovate.


Read Vinod Kumar’s recent blog post on why closing the global skills gaps is key to digital success.