Guest Post: Digital Skills – Not just for the IT crowd

February 2, 2016
Guest Post: Digital Skills – Not just for the IT crowd

Guest Post: Sue Holly-Rodway, Senior Director, VMware EMEA

We live in a digital world, with 24/7 connectivity, news broken in under 140 characters and more mobile devices on the planet than people. And ‘digital’ is all encompassing: we’re not talking about hard, technical skills like coding or application development but the ability to behave digitally. We’ve talked about digital skills in previous blog posts and our recent study found that nearly three-quarters of employees felt the use of digital skills could improve their company’s competitive edge. These digital skills are no longer a nice-to-have talent but a concrete means of business differentiation.

Worryingly, we also found that less than half of today’s workforces are stuck within rigid structures, unable to put their digital skills to use. So what does this mean for businesses? Until these digital skills are unleashed, businesses will continue to lose out; struggle to attract and retain the talent they want, and unable to capitalise on the business opportunity right under their noses. The saving grace is that we’re all in this together – the digital world is one that challenges each of us to embrace new ways of thinking and doing business.

With this in mind, here are the key do’s and don’ts for building digital skills into your business:

  • DO think carefully about the value Digital Skills offer YOUR organisation. Be specific about the ways in which digital skills and new ways of working are relevant to your business, before you work out ‘how’ you are going to make it work in your organisation.
  • DON’T box digital skills up as an ‘IT project’. It would be a huge mistake to limit it to the IT department – after all, technology is pervasive across areas of every aspect of the modern organisation, so why shouldn’t everyone be involved in building out a digital skills strategy?
  • DO reach out to your wider community. This is an opportunity for a ‘learning mashup’ – whether that’s mixing old and young, or finance and creative teams, almost two thirds of employees, of all ages, are willing to use their own time to learn new digital skills.
  • DON’T design this from the ‘top down’. Very important: embracing digital skills is not a top down initiative. Organisations must speak to the people that do the jobs and get them involved in a meaningful way.
  • DO invest properly. Businesses must not only invest, they must be seen to be investing. Implementing digital skills most certainly should not be treated as an obligation, or a tick box exercise.
  • DON’T be scared to fail. My colleague Joe Baguley, VMware’s CTO in EMEA, recently stated “if you want to do innovation, you need to be prepared to let people fail”. Remember: there is no such thing as failure, just experience.

If you have an interest in digital skills take a look at our previous blog posts.

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