The majority of business leaders in Asia Pacific don’t need convincing of the need for digital transformation. They understand the need to keep pace with their competitors and stay ahead of technological innovations. So why are so few companies succeeding at enterprise-wide digital transformation?
The digital skills gap
It’s a fact that the demand for digital skills in today’s workplace is far outpacing the rate at which people are being trained with those skills. This shortage of talent is holding companies back in their digital strategies and causing them to lose their competitive advantage.
But the response to this trend seems to be slow. A 2017 study from Microsoft, which polled workers from 14 countries across Asia, found that 68% of respondents felt their company wasn’t doing enough to bridge the digital skills gap. So how has this gap come about and why are organizations struggling to address it?
The harsh reality of the matter is that, more often than not, C-suites are full of 50-something digital immigrants who are still getting to grips with social media. They simply don’t have the digital skills or the know-how to drive a company forward in digital transformation.
More worryingly, many business leaders have not fully grasped what a digital culture entails. A study from Capgemini published in 2017 found that while 40% of leaders believed their organization had a digital culture, only 27% of employees held the same view.
Bridging the gap
80% of business leaders across Asia Pacific recognize that their future success hinges on their ability to transform digitally, the Microsoft study found. If you fall into that 80%, chances are many of the obstructions to digital transformation are rooted in your company culture. If the underlying culture is reluctant to change, it’s impossible for the company as a whole to take advantage of the new innovation and technology in the market.
Here are three areas where business leaders might need to shake up their company culture in order to bridge the digital gap:
- Empower the right decision makers
Before a company can make any meaningful progress in the digital realm, business owners must first acknowledge any shortfall in skills at exec level. They must then be willing to collaborate with managers at all levels across all areas of the company to develop an innovative digital strategy.
The digital native status that Millennials hold can more than make up for their fewer years of experience – provided they are empowered with the right platform to put their ideas forward.
Creative thinking, particularly from younger members of the workforce with a fresh perspective, should be encouraged.
- Invest in training
With digital development moving at such a fast pace, people who joined the workforce just a few years ago may already be feeling like their skills are outdated.
Another Capgemini report revealed that 29% of employees believe their skill set is already redundant, or will be in the next 1-2 years. But almost half of the digital talent surveyed described their company’s training programs as “useless and boring”, and 55% said they would move to another organization if their current employer wasn’t helping to develop their digital skills.
Moreover, companies stand a better chance of attracting fresh digital talent if they can show they have already embraced a digital culture and are committed to ongoing investment in their employees’ digital development. Although it requires some investment, getting the right digital training programs in place is something that is likely to set companies apart in the coming years.
- Make technology a help, not a hindrance
Although technology is the driving force of digital transformation, it can actually hinder internal operations if not selected and implemented properly. Insufficient training will leave staff working less efficiently – and possibly less securely – than before. Overly complex systems will place an unnecessary burden on time and resources. And systems that require employees to be physically present in the office will create a feeling of restriction.
To be truly beneficial to productivity, technology should be easy to understand and use while delivering value to the people who use it. That’s why we at Alpha7 have created A7 IoB®, a tool that enables you to process information and visualize it simply so you can make better decisions for your business.
As a leader in your organization, you mustn’t underestimate the degree to which an outdated company culture can interfere with your digital transformation progress. Take a fresh look at things and get the right people and technology in place so your business doesn’t stagnate and get left behind.
About the Author
Lynette Seah is an Australian Chartered Accountant with over 28 years of experience in MNCs such as PWC and J.D Edwards, including 8 years’ experience as VP of Finance & Strategy at Salesforce.com and is the proud founder and current owner of Alpha7, a company named one of the top 25 Most Promising Technology Startups in 2016 by various renowned media publications.
As a passionate advocate of digital transformation, she believes that the use of technology and data can help businesses to stay competitive and relevant in this aggressive and fast-paced digital economy. It is challenging for Enterprises and SMEs to adopt, adapt and plan their digital journey.
Her broad experience in audit, finance operations & strategy, HR, project management, business, sales & marketing and partner & channel operations, can provide valuable insights and recommendations to any businesses who wish to roadmap their digital transformation journey. She believes digital Transformation is a journey, not a sprint.