Addressing Digital Transformation: Developing Skills for the new Economy 4.0

by Suzanne Galletly

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The world around us changed radically in the past year, in a way more than any of us would have thought possible at the start of 2020. One consequence of the current crisis is that digital transformation has been fast-forwarded. A recent survey indicated that more than 90% of organizations had accelerated their digital transformation plans due to the Covid-19 crisis. This acceleration has wide implications, in which a different economy emerges – an economy that is collaborative, shared, and based on trust. An economy where services and data need to be available ‘on-demand’ and where customer experience is at the heart of everything. Welcome to the Economy 4.0.

The Economy 4.0 offers organizations and professionals many opportunities but also presents many challenges. Research has shown that organizations that get it right outperform their peers, on the other hand, we have seen enough examples of companies that did not get it right and have perished along the way. This comes as no surprise, considering that in a recent research report from McKinsey, just 16% of executives said that their company’s digital transformation efforts are succeeding. Fulfilling the promise of digital transformation is not an easy road, as it means developing a learning culture based on trust, as well as finding strategies to realize the potential of new technologies and big data. Making this transition can be particularly challenging for companies with a traditional hierarchical structure and culture.

One of the primary barriers to successful digital transformation is bridging the skills gap. The World Economic Forum estimates that in 10 years, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills, and by 2022 more than half of all employees will require significant reskilling. This skills gap does not only relate to technological savviness or ‘hard’ digital skills such as AI, Blockchain, Cloud, and UX design – although all of these are important. It also relates to behavioral aspects such as business agility, creativity, and collaboration skills. Cultural change starts with people and can only be achieved by changing the behavior and attitudes of people.

The role of the Digital Transformation Officer (DTO) can make the difference between a company meeting the challenges of digital transformation head-on or being left behind in the race to utilize digitalization. The DTO drives innovation through new technologies, new business models, and new ways of working that add value. The DTO needs to have a range of skills, including knowledge of emerging technologies, as well as strong servant leadership skills in order to drive cultural change. The VeriSM™ approach can be helpful to the (aspiring) DTO in trying to bring all of this together. VeriSM™ provides guidance on which capabilities organizations need to develop to succeed in the digital age, including developing a customer-centric mindset across the entire organization and how to organize to embrace change. The VeriSM™ Management Mesh is a very useful way of integrating methodologies and technologies, as well as providing the basis for an effective gap analysis.

So what are the implications of all of this for you as a professional?
Well, we live in a time where lifelong learning is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have, and the value of skills development is higher than ever. This value is experienced by those who take their professional development seriously, as evidenced by a survey performed by Pearson Vue, in which 30% of respondents indicated that getting certified led directly to a salary increase. The survey also revealed that the top benefit of being certified was the positive impact on their reputation. Put simply, the growing digital skills gap means that there is a war for talent, and this is set to grow even further. Professionals that can prove that they have these scarce skills – the DTOs of the future – will be able to take their pick of organizations to work for, and the world will be their oyster.

For information on the EXIN Certified Digital Transformation Officer and other career path certifications, visit our career path certification page.

About the author:

As Portfolio Director at EXIN, Suzanne oversees the development and positioning of EXIN’s certification portfolio, in line with market needs and industry trends. Next to her role within EXIN, in 2017 Suzanne was appointed Chief Examiner for VeriSM™ by the newly established International Foundation for Digital Competences (IFDC). In this role, Suzanne is responsible for ensuring there is alignment between the VeriSM™ approach and the VeriSM™ professional certification scheme. Suzanne is recently certified as a Digital Transformation Officer, including areas such as AI, Blockchain, and VeriSM™.