The digital revolution has significantly altered the way modern enterprises think and do business. Every known business process which has been traditionally followed by enterprises for more than half a century, has been either partially or completely disrupted by the emergence of digital technologies. In the modern day, the key to the progress of a business enterprise lies in its ability to be agile and nimble in the face of this tremendous upheaval. One of the oft repeated angst highlighted by today’s enterprises is the lack of sufficient digital skills in order to navigate through this sea of disruption. Lack of digital talent in areas such as Internet of Things, AI, Automation, Cloud, and Cybersecurity is leading to lost sales, lower productivity and reduced market share for traditionally dominant businesses. In this blog, we are going to examine in a bit more detail, the reasons which create this “Digital Talent Gap” and how some of the innovative organizations are addressing this problem.
Reasons for this Burgeoning Talent Gap
As with any deep rooted problem, a mixture of external and internal factors are responsible for the situation which a modern day business finds itself in. Lack of a focused digital technology oriented curriculum at a university level is one big external factor, and a strong booster dose in industry-academia collaboration is required in order to reduce this gap. Another important external factor is the rapid pace at which digital technologies are evolving, which in turn is accompanied by a shortening technology lifecycle. A decade back, financial institutions were perhaps the only mainstream industry concerned about fraud and consumer data security. Today security and privacy are two of the primary concerns of modern digital citizens; they demand robust security measures from every industry, from consumer goods to high tech. This has resulted in a surge in demand for cybersecurity professionals, who are scarce and cannot be created overnight. Similarly, the technology lifecycle from university to mainstream consumption has shortened to preposterously low levels and poses a huge challenge for technology enterprises to train or source new talents in these areas. To give an example, Apache Spark which is an open source Big Data Framework launched relatively recently in 2012 has already undergone as many as 15 version changes to date.
External factors are typically beyond an organization’s control; however internal factors arising out of organizational rigidity are also significant contributors to the non-availability of requisite digital skills. In many organizations, the processes related to talent sourcing, acquisition, and training of resources are rooted in traditional ways which exacerbates the problem of digital skill availability. Moreover there is a lack of clarity in determining which department is actually responsible for digital skill acquisition, as ‘digital’ permeates across all business units. The constant pressure to increase margins is also not helping the cause of plateaued or shrinking training budgets. A modern, well-functioning digital enterprise demands resources who are all-rounders and well versed in technology as well as business. This goes against the legacy approach taken by technology enterprises which slots their resources by their core skills like development, testing, business analysis or project management.
Inspirational innovations in recent times to address this Gap
Capgemini’s partnership with OpenClassrooms for Apprenticeship: We have partnered with online education start-up OpenClassrooms in France which makes it possible to find and hire people who are not in the mainstream route. OpenClassrooms provides state recognized bachelor degrees to students who study full time for a year. It helps students who do not have enough money or time to study for years and then hunt for a job. Capgemini has partnered with OpenClassrooms to tap into this pool for its apprenticeship program, which gives us a readymade source for hiring young talent.
Using AI for Recruitment: AI can reduce human induced bias and at the same time save significant time by automating initial stages in the recruitment process. NLP can be leveraged to reply to routine queries for yet-to be on boarded employees. This reduces the stress on recruitment professionals who can utilize their time for more value added activities. Since 2015, Google started using an internal recruitment tool known as qDroid which provides interviewers relevant questions to ask based on the position which needs to be filled, rather than focusing more on candidate’s background. They believed this helped them to recruit employees who are better suited to the role, leading to increased employee morale and higher productivity.
Use of Virtual Reality: Jaguar Land Rover has partnered with virtual band Gorillaz whose app is used as a recruitment tool for filling requirements for software engineers. Potential applicants’ needs to overcome two challenges on the app, first they have to assemble the Jaguar I-PACE Concept, which is an electric sports car planned for release next year, and the second part involves solving a series of code breaking challenges. The top performers are fast tracked through recruitment process.
Gamification – Cosmetics major L’Oréal used a game called “Reveal the Game” where participants can take part in real life simulations of workplace in a digital environment. They can interact with virtual employees and collect feedback, which will ultimately determine a contestant’s best suitability to a particular department. The players with highest scores had an opportunity to interview with L’Oréal. The game, which was built by experts from academia, business, and psychometry, and has won many accolades.
MOOC—Organizations are partnering with online education platforms such as Coursera and Khan Academy to create customized courses and reach them through appropriate digital platforms. The Millennial generation’s strong need for learning coupled with their high comfort factor with digital media makes online learning platforms an ideal learning tool for new generation employees. eDX, a leading not for profit online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT, has partnered with IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN) in India to create an online learning portal for its employees. This co-branded portal can be accessed by IFIN employees for learning, courses can be discovered on this portal using eDX catalogue APIs.
Employee Exchange Program with Technology Companies: A few years back P&G had created an employee exchange program with Google, to foster innovation and scale up digital skills for its employees. Employees from both companies took part in each other’s business meetings, brainstormed and put forward a valuable outside opinion. With modern consumers spending most of their time on digital media, it had become imperative for P&G to map online consumer behavior and perhaps there is no better partner than Google to address this need.
Digital skills vary from one organization to another, based on the business, customer segments, market, strategy and digital maturity. Large businesses need to define a digital vision, which in turn drives near term and long-term skill requirements. Addressing the skill-gap issue needs a holistic approach, a framework needs to be built where important factors are identified, strategies are designed, implemented and monitored on a regular basis. Typically external factors are neglected while addressing the problem of skill gap. Enterprises need to work with governments and academia to provide them necessary inputs so that policy makers can be guided towards building future-ready skills, which are more tuned towards handling the needs of a digital world. Digital society demands collaboration like never before, businesses need to step up their efforts in this direction by being more active in open source communities. The skill gap issue needs to be part of the overall Digital Transformation Agenda so that it is addressed and monitored from the appropriate vantage point.
Read Capgemini’s and LinkedIn’s joint research report on the Digital Talent Gap: