So you want to digitally transform your business.  You might be thinking… Step 1, create a strategy.  Step 2, implement the strategy.  But wait!!!  Do you even know if you have the human capital to support this transformation?  Through Capgemini’s research with the MIT Center for Digital Business, we found that 77% of companies consider a lack of digital skills as the key hurdle to their Digital Transformation.  In other words, companies get stuck trying to develop or acquire the right talent to achieve their digital goals.

How they got stuck

Companies have underestimated the importance of talent with the appropriate digital skills, resulting in a frantic effort to rapidly fill the gap.  Too often, clients start rolling out digital skills training and hiring more IT professionals in order to fill this gap, but six months later executives are stuck wondering why their business has not changed.  Had the client been able to assess and prioritize skill gaps ahead of time, the executives would be seeing the change they seek.  To avoid this scenario, companies must have employees equipped with the necessary skills before the digital transformation can take place.

Getting unstuck

Assessing the digital skills of employees allows the company to take a strategic approach to identify and develop the key skills necessary to fulfill its strategic objectives, enabling Digital Transformation.  To begin, it is important to understand that digital permeates the length and breadth of every function across the organization, making it essential to define which digital skills are necessary, not only globally but also by business unit.  In many cases, clients end up “borrowing” talent from other areas of the organization to temporarily fill the gaps, creating strategic teams that can drive change forward until skill gaps are filled permanently.

The acquisition of digital skills without careful assessment of existing skills and gaps in capabilities does not benefit the organization.  Training and re-skilling can be costly, so companies should only target the digital skills that are integral to fulfilling their strategic objectives.  Once an assessment is complete, skill gaps can be prioritized and strategic workforce plans created. See Figure 1 for an example of a Digital Capability Gap Assessment.  Clients typically “borrow” talent from a consulting firm or vendor to give employees firsthand experience with the desired skills and provide some on-the-job training.  This can be complimented by hiring new talent that specifically fills digital gaps and training programs that directly develop targeted skill gaps.   

With the increase in demand for talent with digital skills, the organization may need to consider more creative methods to acquire particular digital skill sets.  In my experience, I have seen companies employ a variety of methods from strategic acquisitions to engaging with incubating startups.  The key challenge is knowing exactly what skills are required.  Because “Digital Transformation” is a transformation that affects all parts of the organization, it is likely that different skills will be needed along the way.  To adequately support the transformation, organizations need a strategic plan that identifies what skills are needed and at what points along the way they will come in demand.  Digital Transformation efforts are most likely to fail if employees lack the skills to implement and support them.  

The tools

It can be overwhelming to look at the necessary digital skills required for a transformation.  Many of these digital skills and capabilities exist, to some degree, in varying areas of the organization.  However, it can be a grueling treasure hunt to find them without the right tools. 

We have created a self-assessment to help get you started at the link here.