What digital skills and competencies do you need – and how to get it?
SMEs typically can’t afford nor attract top notch experts with crucial value creating skills to become employees. And no matter how talented your employees are, chances are that many of them are becoming noncompetitive or they lack the skills to take your company to the next level. The half-life of a learned skill used to be about thirty years. Today it is down to about five years.
However, thanks to the internet, the cost of finding and tracking outside staff has dropped to almost zero and at the same time, the volume and quality of freelancers have gone up dramatically.
Do you have the skills and competencies available in your company which enables you to keep up with the ever-increasing requirements to stay relevant to your customers?
Do you have the skills and competencies available in your company which enables you to outcompete your competitors?
As digital transformation disrupts the workplace, one factor more than any other will determine which companies turn digital to their advantage. That critical element is people: the talented people who can use existing digital technologies and adapt to evolving methods and new approaches. Without these people, companies will struggle to benefit from the latest advances—everything from Industry 4.0 and robots to artificial intelligence, data science, virtual reality, and new digital business models.
The technologies themselves will be evolving and relatively easy to exchange, but the people capable of using them will be scarce. In fact, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)1) expect a severe shortfall in digital talent around the world by 2020, when, according to a Gartner study, 30% of tech jobs will be unfilled owing to digital talent shortfalls.
To build and retain a strong pool of digital talent, companies must answer four important questions:
- You need to understand who is available on the market and who makes up the core of digital talent already in place across your business.
- You need to identify the new digital job profiles and the digital capabilities required in the near future.
- You must understand where to find the required people over the medium and long term—and how to recruit or contract – and engage them.
- You need to understand what digital skills need to be nurtured and developed among your existing employees.
The digital competencies you need
For any digital people strategy, the first step is defining what “digital talent” means. Until you fully understand the digital profiles, or job functions, available in the market and within the company, there can be no clear way to determine which digital capabilities—and in what profiles—you must recruit or contract – develop and retain.
To facilitate such understanding, BCG have identified (through analysis of nearly a million recruitment profiles and from dozens of interviews with practitioners) six areas where digital talent can have the most impact. These areas are:
1: Digital Business
Digital business experts come up with innovative ideas for new business models applying primarily digital or digitally enabled solutions. Digital business experts demonstrate deep insight into one or more digital business areas.
In SMEs, Board members may be chosen for their digital business expertise. But business development consultants may also be used to supplement the digital business expertise already present within your company.
2: Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing Experts may already be your employees, but your capabilities may also be in-sourced from marketing agencies or freelancers – in part or in full. Digital Marketing Experts know how to use the multitude of digital channels to approach customers. Digital Marketing Experts build digital content, interact with customers, and manage the digital brand. Digital marketing experts also help establish a supportive Community & Crowd.
3: Digital Development
Digital Development Experts are often in-sourced from marketing agencies or freelancers. Digital Development Experts help build the digital channels through which you connect with your customers, community & crowd. Digital Development Experts work in agile teams, design and develop cutting edge digital products and services. Digital Development Experts design user interfaces and user experiences.
4: Advanced Analytics
Advanced Analytics Experts are most often in-sourced from marketing agencies or freelancers. Advanced Analytics Experts aggregate data and create algorithms to understand what customers like and want. Advanced Analytics Experts gather, organize and analyze data to identify key insights.
5: Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 Experts may already be some of your employees, but your capabilities may also be in-sourced from tech-agencies or freelancers- in part or in full. Industry 4.0 Experts work with the manufacturing side to create new products. Industry 4.0 experts make use of industry 4.0 operations improvements like e.g.: Automation, robotics and 3D- and virtual manufacturing.
6: New Ways of Working
In SMEs New Ways of Working responsibility normally lies with yourself as an SME-manager. New Ways of Working expertise involves using innovative methods that improve overall efficiency and transform the organizational culture. Also to radical transformation, a.o. in business model. New Ways of Working establish agile working methods and employ technology for more rapid growth.
Finding and implementing successful New Ways of Working depends on how well you and your company have access to, understand and master the opportunities and threats of digital to your business model, marketing and manufacturing.
Your company’s digital profile and gaps
At SMExO we have developed a test tool which you may use to find your company’s Digital Expertise Profile as well as Digital Expertise Gaps.
Your Digital Expertise Profile gives you an overview of the extent to which you are currently mastering and have access to the 6 different digital expertises and compares it with your ambitions in the same areas.
Your Digital Expertise Gap indicates areas where you might want to focus your efforts to gain more digital expertise.
You can take the test by clicking on this link to our Digital Expertise Test
However, as we said initially SMEs typically can’t afford nor attract top notch experts in all areas with crucial value creating skills to become full-time employees. And no matter how talented your employees are, chances are that many of them are becoming noncompetitive or they lack the skills to take your company to the next level. The half-life of a learned skill used to be about thirty years. Today it is down to about five years.
But thanks to the internet, the cost of finding and tracking outside staff has dropped to almost zero and at the same time, the volume and quality of freelancers have gone up dramatically.
In a comming post we will give some ideas as to where you might access these freelance digital skills.
Stay tuned – and subscribe to our SMExO-Newsletter!