Digital Transformation – is your Talent Management Strategy in line?

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Consumer First!! Companies have been shouting this slogan out from the rooftops. Not many, however, have done enough justice to this slogan. Most companies are still inward focused. For them, the consumer of their products/services is just a source of income and not really a source of co-creation. The consumer-focused organization is a myth in most cases.

With Digital Transformation, the long ignored consumer seems to at last be center-stage. As I’ve written about previously, with tools like Design Thinking, the focus on stuff like consumer journeys, service design, and product design seems to be changing the way we look at our consumers and businesses.

 But hold on – Is there a danger of companies once again reverting back to the old ways? Will consumer centricity remain just an empty promise?

 One way to evaluate this is to see how your company is going about its Digital Transformation initiatives. As part of that, the key aspect to evaluate is the following:- “ Is there a very different profile of a team that is taking the lead on executing your Digital Transformation business?”

 Take an example of a typical IT services company. The standard team that used to be the seed as far as any standard enterprise engagement was concerned typically comprised of people with a software engineering background.

This was essentially the “How” team. The “Why” and the “What” was typically handled by someone else and most times, the “How” team had neither any clue nor any inclination to know the “Why” or the “What”!!

Cut to today’s scenario when the same company wants to execute a Digital Transformation project. Will the same kind of seed team work? The answer is clearly a big NO.

Given that Digital Transformation is all about the consumer, what kind of people would you need on the team who can help you best understand the consumer? Given below are a few points in this regard:-

  • It is all about a consumer-centric design be it a product or a service. So people with a Design Thinking background are key.
  • The consumer is a human being. It’s critical to know how she/he thinks, what are the current problems being experienced and what would the consumer like to experience from a sensory or emotional or cognitive perspective. Here you will need people with a background in consumer psychology.
  • Consumers will have different demographics (country, language, culture, age…). Hence people with backgrounds in Anthropology for example will be required.
  • The domain is critical. The answer to the “Why” and “What” cannot be reached or understood if one doesn’t really understand the consumer’s business. And the answer is important because without that, one cannot think of transformation. Hence true domain people (and not engineers masquerading as domain guys just because they have executed a few projects with a retail chain or a bank!!) will be needed.
  • Understanding  consumer data (past and present) and its implications is critical. Hence data scientists will be needed.
  • There will be a set of leadership skills which will be extremely critical. I have covered some of that in my previous blog (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/design-thinking-leadership-nitin-kulkarni?trk=mp-author-card)

 I am sure that a few more types of profiles will be needed based on the particular transformation use case. But these are the kind of people that a company desirous of playing in the Digital Transformation field will need to have on board either as employees or consultants.

If you will notice, there is no mention of software engineers on the seed team. They will be needed to build the solution but that comes much later. This part of the job will pretty much be standardized given the proliferation of platforms, apps, components, automation tools etc.

Given this, it might be a good idea to look at the current configuration of teams and hence the entire Talent management strategy.

  • Are the company’s hiring or upskilling plans accounting for this shift?
  • How many certified Design Thinkers are on board?
  • Is there a role and career path articulated for consumer psychologists or data scientists or anthropologists?
  • Is there a well thought through strategy for hiring v/s contracting for these skills?
  • Is the HR budget accounting for premium salaries for these profiles?
  • Are there initiatives to dramatically optimize the software engineering teams through automation?
  • Is there a noticeable shift in the overall demographic of the workforce from a skill profile perspective?

Digital Transformation is all about the consumer. Companies need to keep this in mind as they prepare to take advantage of this phenomenon to make a real positive impact on their consumers. The Talent Management strategy in this context will be extremely different from the traditional and companies need to be cognizant of the same.

Image Credits: Stanford University

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