It’s a people business…

From talking to colleagues, customers and business partners, I’ve noticed that we are all aware that we need to transform our business models to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving world. We also agree that emerging technologies offer great opportunities for smarter working, and that customers dictate the innovation path of organizations. But while we are exploring the potential of new technologies and how they can add value to our business, we tend to forget one thing – or maybe we don’t forget it, but we’re failing to act on it. And by ‘it’ I mean the people aspect. To make digital transformation a success, we need our employees to develop the required skills right now.

Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) won’t just take jobs, they will also create new ones. To be successful in these new jobs, people need the right skills. We all know this but we’re struggling to get our workforce transformation under way. We know that it’s about new ways of working and lifelong learning, and that skills like empathy, collaboration and creativity will be key. But we’re not actively preparing our people for it today.

Shared responsibility

I strongly believe that digital transformation and our ability to build future-proof organizations requires people to be passionate about their jobs. It is up to individuals to determine what motivates them and how they can keep growing throughout their careers, but organizations and governments also have an important role to play. Organizations should coach and guide their workers, while at the same time creating a fit-for-purpose work environment.

At Dell EMC, we encourage people to collaborate in projects that run over the boundaries of functions, departments and countries. By doing so, they gain new skills and experiences and they discover what drives them most. Furthermore, we help them to determine a career path through an individual development plan focused on building new competences and coaching by a mentor within the organization.

Learning 4.0

As the pension age continues to be raised, our lives will no longer be divided into the three traditional, consecutive phases of studying, working and retirement. Most workers believe that they will have to keep developing new skills in order to keep up with the changes in the workplace. But for many of us, classroom-based courses or on-the-job training are very time-consuming activities to combine with our current jobs and family lives. The solution lies in more accessible and less expensive tailor-made learning moments, as and when we need them. New ways of learning will determine our ability to address multiple workforce challenges, from existing skills gaps to diversity and talent retention.

Human skills empower technology

Besides offering new ways of learning, organizations should actively coach people, building on their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses. We should actively nurture skills like passion, creativity and critical thinking. They don’t only make us future-proof in the digital era, but they also uniquely complement emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain and predictive analytics. Machines are better than humans at creating real-time reports, but we need passionate people to then take those insights and use them to inspire customers and build long-lasting customer relationships. It’s still a people business and we must prepare our people for their future jobs right now.

About the Author: Pascale Van Damme