Talent, more than tech, is the key in a digital future

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By Antony Mutunga

The digital era, starting in the 70s, has been characterised by technology, which has increased in scope and breadth, creating a fast loop of knowledge turnover in life and the economy. Technology has given us innovations such as artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and the Internet of Things, which continue to transform life.

Today, individuals and organizations have access to technological innovations that allow them to yield better results. However, despite the availability of this technology, the requisite skills are not, and companies have struggled to find the right tech talent to help them adapt to changing times.

As technology continues to, inevitably, advance, so will the jobs we perform. Consequently, organizations will need employees who are able to adapt with the times, which makes talent as important as technology – perhaps even more – in ensuring a firm’s success.

The biggest challenge for most organizations is to acquire and hold on to such talent.  In fact, according to the ‘Future of Work: The Global Talent Crunch’ Report, by 2030, demand for skilled workers will outstrip supply, resulting in a global talent shortage of more than 85.2 million people.

Upskilling

To avoid this looming crisis, organisations must innovate ways to have and structure the best talent for their needs. For starters, skill development is crucial. Upskilling has never been so important to keep up with changing jobs and technologies.

Organizations need to identify the skills and roles that will be crucial for the present and future digital era, to begin investing and building them at an early date. Firms must train already existing employees, hire or intern new workers, utilise freelancers and incorporate partners to create a system that works.

Additionally, barriers to intellectual and skills development need to be broken down within existing organizational structures. For instance, it might be time to get rid of the traditional layout of chaining workers to a desk and adopt designs that not only promote a sense of community but also which encourage working together and promote innovation. Companies must allow their employees work mobility and create programs dedicated to improving their digital prowess and skills.

Third, organizations must, of necessity, pick a model that integrates both new, technical talent with existing knowledge from longstanding employees. This way, parties learn from each other to create an integrated team able to keep the company’s goal and objectives alive as well as keep up with changing trends. And, to keep performances going, this integration must be paired with incentives and rewards to keep the team motivated.

People and machines

Next, organizations have to find a way for machines and people to co-exist in the work environment, meaning it will be crucial to understand functions. For example, with the rising popularity of AI, it’s only a matter of time before it is incorporated into every other organisation. Therefore in classifying activities, firms must demarcate duties and functions in a way that these constituencies do not clash. The aim is to create collaboration, not conflict.

Lastly, leadership structures must be and remain robust. It is crucial to work on and refine digital dexterity to ensure they execute the business model and ready it for a digital future.

To be sure, shuffling the workforce to be enable it grow and thrive under digital disruption is a formidable challenge, but is necessary for the success of organizations in this age. Talent is vital, which is why organizations must embed a learning mind-set to ensure every employee has the requisite skills to tackle digital disruption. (

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