By Matt Crosby, Head of expertise, UK and Ireland at Hay Group
VMware has drawn attention to the digital skills debate and the impact these skills are having on businesses. It’s my belief that you cannot have a successful IT strategy without a people strategy running through the centre of it. That’s why I’ve agreed to work alongside VMware to explore how companies can best harness and nurture digital skills and why they’re not all doing it today.
Firstly, some context. The broader trend of digitisation is changing organisations across our economy. Whilst there are some sectors, like retail and financial services, that have experienced the profound effects of this over recent years, virtually all sectors are now affected and want to do more with digitisation.
With this in mind, VMware spoke to its online community throughout EMEA to get its views on the role and value of digital skills, both now and in the future. What became clear is that this isn’t just about the latest technology or having customers connect with businesses differently, or even having businesses connect with customers differently. It’s about employees using tools, devices and applications to share, analyse and use data when they want, where they want and how they want. Nearly half (45%) of the respondents, for example, believe that sharing tools and applications (think Dropbox, WeTransfer etc.) will be most useful within the office of the future, followed closely by social media platforms (42%).
So this quickly becomes an issue of whether employers are adapting enough to the ways in which their employees now want to work, and whether they can do so in a way that delivers sufficient return on investment from the supporting technology. This latter point can be a challenge in itself – because this is all relatively new, finding meaningful data to measure return or direct improvements in productivity can be difficult.
It does, of course, also raise the question of whether employees know how to take advantage of the technology available. With more than four out of five people (83%) agreeing that a good knowledge of digital skills is beneficial within the modern office environment, we found that 69% are calling out for more formal digital skills training from their employer.
Organisations are only starting to catch up with the reality of what skillsets are needed. In doing so, they’re in danger of allowing these skills to be self- taught, within the preserve of ‘tech savvy’ employees – so leaving others behind. And while almost half (47%) of respondents think a knowledge of digital skills can have a positive impact on the wider business, what we really need to assess is whether employers are being clear in communicating how digital skills should be used within their organisation and what the benefits should be.
This is just the beginning. Over the coming months, we’ll be diving into the issue in increasing detail. Keep an eye on the blogs of VMware and Hay Group to keep on top of the debate.