Top skills required for digital transformation


Those leading digital transformation need other soft skills in addition to technological expertise.

Every organisation wants to jump onto the digitisation bandwagon. It’s the latest buzzword. Not surprising, since that’s affecting business like nothing else has ever done. According to a Bersin By Deloitte study, 90 per cent of organisations surveyed believe their core business is threatened by new digital competitors.

Digitisation doesn’t only affect the way we deal or interact with our customers but it also impacts the way organisations are structured, the way we work and what new skills are required—both now and in the immediate future.

Digitisation erases the legacy mindsets, and paves the way for more agile, collaborative, innovative and adaptive methods of doing business.

Unfortunately, 70 per cent of the companies surveyed by Bersin By Deloitte, agree that they do not have the right leadership, skills, or operating models to adapt.

One must remember that digital transformation is not just about implementing fancy new tools. A company successfully transforms itself into a digital company when people obtain digital skills. Of course that has to start with the leader of the organisation and should spread top to bottom.

Digital transformation is often owned by the chief technology/information officer with strong inputs from the chief executive officer.

It’s also important for companies to evaluate and understand what ‘digital talent’ means. Until the company fully understands the digital profiles, or job functions, available in the market and within the company, there can be no clear way to determine how many digital employees—and in what profiles—it must recruit, develop and retain.

However, the team needs to have the following skills for successful digital transformation.

1. Data analytics

Any digital transformation project will incur a high volume of data. Therefore, data analytics, market research analytics and database administration skills should be the most sought after skill sets.

Suppose a bank wants to implement a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution that uses intelligent software or robots to automate the repetitive and mundane data collection and entry tasks between the websites, banking systems, internal applications and other portals. The skills it should seek are those pertaining to data analytics, which is indispensible.

2. Digital literacy
Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. So it’s much more than just technical knowledge.

It’s not necessary for the digital team to be digital native, but the team members need to understand and appreciate the role technology plays in their daily and professional lives.


Click here for a comprehensive guide on the digital skills landscape for modern organisations.


3. Learnability

People with a creative bent of mind, and those with cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence are important, but the most important aspect is learnability. Businesses need to recruit people who are willing to learn, upskill and keep pace with the changing skill sets digital transformation continues to introduce. In addition, they should not be afraid to take risks, fail, and innovate and it’s not just in technology but also in new management and leadership techniques.

4. Change-management skills

Yes, it’s a digital world, but the human touch and interaction is necessary. Digitisation could disrupt the lives of many employees, which is why people with effective communication and analytics skills and those who can manage change will be required. It is important to keep the team spirit alive with regular and personalised communication and face-to-face meetings as well.

5. Ability to facilitate, plan and inspire

The digitisation team is the mediator between digital immigrants and digital natives. Both are important for the business and the job of the digitisation team is to bridge the gap between the two so that everyone in the organisation benefits from the transformation.

The team should comprise visionaries, who also possess the ability to inspire others to believe in their plans.

6. Ability to motivate
Successful leaders possess a vision, and the ability to convince others too to believe in their vision. This means that digital leaders need to be great storytellers to be able to connect and motivate others. While there will be early adopters, there will also be doubters who will need time to acclimatise themselves to the new technology. The leaders will have to handle both.

Digital leaders need not only be technological experts but also be able to envision possibilities that don’t yet exist.

The digital team or the organisation undergoing digital transformation needs to keep one simple thing in mind–people come first.

Forcing people to use a new tool or to adopt new processes at a moment’s notice will only lead to them rejecting the new measures. It’s important to communicate the benefits of the new technology and processes to the team and offer sufficient training and coaching to familiarise people with it. Digital transformation shouldn’t be a chore, it should become part of the organisation and everyone should live it.


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