By Suresh Nair
India is projected to be the youngest country in the world by 2020, with approximately half of its 1.2 billion people under the age of 26. This would potentially lead to a growing middle class which would push India as one of the world’s fastest-growing knowledge-based economies. To enable today’s Indian youth, companies should have architecture in place to help their employees’ up skill or re-skill. Every company is in a race to transform them to be truly digital. However, when does a company become truly digital? Is it by acquiring flashy, hi-tech gadgets? Is it by getting a bunch of apps created and pushing them down on everyone? Or is it by procuring smart tech solutions that make big promises?
All the above are characteristic to Digital Transformation and modernization of an organization. Yes, your business could do with system upgrades, better infra and smarter technologies, but these alone cannot bring to life those outcomes that you want your business to experience.
Real transformation happens when the people (read: talent) in the business think, act and proceed with a digital mindset. When there is a natural enhancement in collaboration, speed, nimbleness, harmony, efficiency, and creativity, there will be amazing impacts on the key performance indicators of the business. That is the promise of digital transformation. That can happen when there is powerful Digital Talent.
“Over the next five years, large companies will invest, on average, hundreds of millions of dollars—and some more than a billion dollars—to transform their business to digital. And given that top engineering talent can, for example, be anywhere from three to ten times more productive than average engineers, acquiring top talent can yield double-digit investment savings by accelerating the transformation process by even 20 to 30 percent.” – McKinsey wrote in Sept 2016.
While there is no debate that companies are investing heavily on talent, the problem is “top engineering talent” is not easy to come by.
“Based on data from over 200 million active job postings in the marketplace pulled from research by Gartner Talent Neuron, there are widening gaps that need to be filled for high demand IT roles. Cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) are already in high demand, and extremely short supply. To deploy AI successfully, CIO’s will need to hire AI leaders with proven experience. Yet, for a CIO trying to hire an AI leader in New York, Talent Neuron data showed only 32 AI experts based in New York of which only 16 are potential candidates and only 8 of those 16 are actively looking for a new role. Those 8 candidates are already being courted by at least a dozen other companies.” – An exciting input from Gartner, as recent as Oct 2017.
Clearly, we are headed to more demanding times in addressing the talent conundrum over the next few years as CIOs and CTOs of every large corporations brace themselves for major transformation drives across the auto, BFSI, pharma, manufacturing and other core industries. With several close first-hand experiences, I can certainly vouch that the primary talent chunk in large corporations is not prepared to handle or adapt to this radical change. Yet.
There are two dimensions to the talent predicament of companies today:
1. Talent that is existing in the enterprise but not necessarily digitally equipped. At the same time, this is talent with immense institutional knowledge.
2. Need for new digital talent which can further accelerate the pace of transformation and growth.
This calls for a dual strategy of Talent Transformation and Talent Acquisition. But it is not an easy job to identify or assess if a certain talent is digitally ready or not. Skills in technologies may not be enough for the talent to be a great fit.
A few must-have traits of a digital mindset that should be identified in new talent and developed in existing talent are:
1. Being transdisciplinary – The ability to understand and synthesize concepts across functions and disciplines.
2. Having an experience centric mindset – To be able to think of a solution from the end-user’s perspective, and not from the problem end.
3. Technical fungibility – A full-stack mindset, and the ability to perform any task at any level of the technical stack.
4. Computation thinking – Ability to translate or visualize data in any amount into abstract concepts.
Digital transformation has ushered the world to a new age which needs new skills, new outlook and a fresh approach towards doing things. There is so much talk on how technology advancements and automation is sounding a death knell to traditional IT jobs. But if you look at it in this way, it is an opportunity hiding in plain sight. A prediction from Gartner says that from 2020, AI will probably create 2.3 million new jobs while replacing 1.8 million other jobs that exist today! Think about it – when the need for a data entry operator is removed, a scope for an individual to grow into a Data Scientist emerges.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for talent to evolve as individuals, and enterprises to look at augmenting people and help them function at a higher intelligence level. The good part is that people have a large spectrum of skills today to explore and design their own thought process.
(The author is Chief Transformation Officer, Altimetrik)