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Catching the great wave: Business transformation and IoT

Digital transformation is moving fast and furious, and shows no signs of stopping. It’s a sink-or-swim situation for organizations and individuals in today’s economy. To succeed requires riding the digital transformation wave full on.

But how can this actually be accomplished? Well, it requires the successful balance of three key elements.

Customer experience is one of them. Customers have come to expect always-on, personalized service and will not tolerate slowness or indifference. An Accenture survey found that two-thirds of respondents switched companies due to poor customer service experiences.

The second element is innovation. Gartner’s 2016 CEO Survey found that half of 396 leaders in 30 countries expect digitization will soon make their industries fully or mostly unrecognizable. A survey from The Global Center for Digital Transformation found certain companies are at a higher risk of going out of business due to digital disruption. These companies are in industries like travel, media, manufacturing, technology and healthcare.

The third element is workforce experience, which has become every bit as important as the customer experience and keeping up with the rapid technology evolution. Businesses that get it wrong lose their productivity. A Gallup report found that 87% of employees in 142 countries are disengaged. And one disengaged employee costs an organization $3,400 for every $10,000 spent in salary. Yet the same study found that just a 10% hike in worker satisfaction boosts earnings per share by 50%.

To succeed in digital transformation, all three elements must line up. This can only be accomplished by recognizing the equal importance of talent, technology and teamwork.

IT’s roles are expanding

IT is the linchpin of digitization, but it cannot work by itself. As IoT evolves, IT will reach into all aspects of digital organizations to impact current and emerging business models, customer engagement and insight, products and services, end user processes, the supply chain and partners. IT must fit in everywhere.

The challenge for today’s IT professionals is to branch out beyond traditional roles to help drive better business outcomes. And non-technical business people will interact more with IoT-based IT. Network control engineers, for example, will be part of operations. Software programmers will collaborate with business development teams. Business analysts will drive software requirements.

IT professionals must look beyond merely making the technology work and broaden their base of skills to drive business outcomes. They strive to become more articulate communicators, business consultants, cloud specialists, data scientists, design leads, enterprise architects, expert collaborators, program managers, software programmers, security practitioners, systems analysts, systems integrators and technology futurists.

New approaches to learning and development are vital to this transformation of skills, and organizations will need new approaches to hiring as they bring in new talent.

The critical talent factor

As user and connected device numbers are exploding — and as security threats are expanding — so are traffic and transaction volumes. Digital business applications are more demanding. Direct customer interactions are rising. Demand for data collection and distribution and networked resources is off the charts. Team collaboration is happening more and more. These rapid shifts in technology create the need for top talent, fed by continuous learning.

It’s not easy to find IT professionals with digital-ready skill sets. According to the 18th annual Global CEO Survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the lack of key digital skills is one of the biggest concerns of 73% of business leaders. McKinsey’s Cracking the Digital Code report found that a lack of talent was respondents’ top challenge in meeting priorities for digital projects. The same report concluded that managing talent precisely is one of the keys to digital success.

Employees understand that in order to flourish in today’s environment, they need to keep current on their skills. In its Being Digital report in 2015, Accenture found that 64% of employees surveyed are proactively learning new skills to prepare for digital changes. Eighty-one percent saw digitization transforming the way they work in three years. And 40% said that shift would be significant.

One of the avenues by which organizations will be able to take ownership of the talent pool they need is by providing the right training for employees to acquire the right digital skills quickly. The best learning experiences are current and relevant. They are convenient and practical; their focus is collaborative. They are also standardized and, most importantly, continuous.

Because skills will keep diverging across vertical industries, geographic location and systems, organizations and IT professionals also need a credentialing system to validate new job-related skills and training that focuses on specific skills. And, with a workforce more and more diverse, instruction formats are quickly evolving. They are moving toward video-based, gaming-like formats that offer flexible learning options. Instruction can be accessed as needed, any time, any place, using any smart device.

When it comes to digital transformation, the future is clear. Companies who want to compete will embrace the change, and individuals, particularly in IT, will need to adapt to new needs. As IT job roles change, the right skills training and credentials become more important than ever before. For successful transformation in the digital age, businesses must put equal emphasis on developing technology, talent and teamwork.

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