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The future of digital transformation: Addressing the new-age digital skills gaps

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By Kamal Dutta

The future of our everyday personal and professional lives is changing. At a fast pace. This reminds me of William Gibson, the American speculative fiction author who some sixteen years ago famously quoted “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”. The things which we predicted to be part of our future lives already exist for many people today. Moore’s law, states that technological capacity doubles every two years, but in some cases, it has tripled and even quadrupled to some extent. Digitalisation is shrinking the world by eliminating the time and space barriers in communication. This is giving rise to the possibility of higher productivity and innovation. The world is closer and much more integrated than ever before.
This digitalisation has brought about a sea change in our perspectives towards work and how organisations function to keep themselves sustainable. Enterprises have learnt the hard truth that it is only by adopting digital transformation that they can stay relevant in their markets. Large-scale digital transformation, therefore, is inevitable. A Microsoft study even states that by 2021, 60 per cent of Asia Pacific’s GDP will derive from digital products or services.

Kamal Dutta, Managing Director, Skillsoft and SumTotal, India and SAARC

To thrive in the present business ecosystem, organisations are integrating digital technologies into their business and organisational activities, competencies and models. They are leveraging technological advancements such as data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), etc., to streamline their operations and offerings. Through such advancement, organisations are boosting their value proposition and relationship with consumers. However, in order to cope effectively with digitalisation across industries, organisations need to focus on upgrading what holds the highest potential to improve – its human resources.

Challenges hindering accelerated adoption of digital technologies
Truly adopting the new-age digital infrastructure is quite demanding and comes with multiple challenges. While digitalisation is leading to the simplification of business functions, it is also demands acquiring highly specialized skills resulting in an industry-wide need for skilled employees. For many organisations the lack of such skilled talent pool, is creating a major roadblock. Same applies for employees, cannot afford to sit back and relax. For them, the task of staying updated and in demand comes only when they adopt a learning mindset and continue acquiring new skills throughout their career.

Despite this, the fact remains that less than half (46 per cent) of companies are reskilling and upskilling their workforce to prepare the organisation for the ongoing digital transformation. Thus, this is just the beginning of the future. While a report reveals that India is the largest repository of digital talent (76 per cent), employees across companies are in severe need of up-skilling. Working knowledge in ML, AI, blockchain paired with business acumen is in high demand. To meet this demand, leading organisations are adopting measures to upskill their existing talent, while also hiring new skilled employees. Aiding them in these upskilling endeavors are tech-led learning management systems (LMS).

Addressing the gap with tech-backed Learning Management Systems
There are many ways in which companies are using learning management systems to address the challenges that come with digital transformation. Companies can leverage LMS platforms to create their own unique learning. Before starting, they have to rethink the role of L&D, strategy, content, tools, and technologies to engage learners and drive better performance. Here’s looking at some advantages of LMS platforms for organisations devising upskilling strategies.

1. Customising learning: Considering that each employee’s individual learning needs can be different, LMS can provide the company with comprehensive learning material and appropriate training tools. Using a variety of formats, it deploys a blended learning approach to deliver holistic training.

2. Enabling learning anywhere anytime: Though companies start employee training to combat rising skill gaps arising from digitalization, it is no secret that making the right use of digital tools itself can help them do so. Leveraging by-products of digitalisation- e-learning and mobile learning- companies can make the learning process more seamless. Employees can access the course/study materials from any geographical location, at any time as per their convenience.

3. Driving motivation and engagement using gamification: Simply ordering employees to undertake a course cannot deliver the desired results. They need to be motivated in order to make the most of the learning opportunities provided to them. In a time when a significant percentage of the workforce comprises of millennials, adopting a fun way of learning can be very productive. Companies across different industries, who have realised this, are using games, quizzes and reward points to drive better learning outcomes.

4. Integrating peer-to-peer learning and knowledge: When employees indulge in peer to peer learning, they are better equipped to implement the knowledge they gain from the course in practical circumstances.

5. Empowering them with continuous learning: As mentioned earlier, simply learning is not enough. To remain relevant and compete effectively in the present disruptive scenario, a company needs to enforce a culture of continuous learning. LMS, by continuously mapping an employee’s progress and suggesting new courses to take up, can create this environment of life-long learning within an organisation.

The potential of distinct employee learning systems is evident in the heights that Asia’s two largest economies China and Japan have scaled. Over the last decade, their policies have been aggressively driven by digital transformation.

On similar lines, the Government in India launched the Skill India program in 2015 to train 40 crore people in different skills by 2022. While this is primarily aimed at the unemployed population or school dropouts, similar initiatives can be implemented to facilitate companies in training their employees.

As a result of large-scale digital transformation, the culture of 24×7 availability to the customer is prevalent. With shifting customer expectations, organisations will have to transform their practices while being mindful of the digital innovations that can accelerate their growth. As companies create deeper inroads into their target market on the back of these newfound digital tools, the need for more skilled employees is only slated to increase. This requires a widespread implementation of LMS to boost skill-based learning and better prepare companies and their employees in the increasingly tech-centric job landscape.

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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