Successful digital transformation relies on having specialised technical and leadership skills at hand at various stages of the journey. But before we start listing skills, it’s important to discuss what transformation entails.
“Digital” or “transformation” – which is most important?
Most people think “digital” is the important part of “digital transformation”. Actually, the disruptive threat from digital business and digital platforms comes from their business models, not their technology.
The key part of “digital transformation” is “transformation”. Digital is just an enabler.
When you transform your business, you must question everything.
Remove “that’s how we’ve always done it” from your vocabulary.
Think about how you would build your business from the ground-up. If you were starting now – if you were the disruptor – what would you do?
That’s where your strategy starts to take shape.
This questioning requires entrepreneurship and leadership. Do you have those skills? If you think you don’t, you have just displayed the leadership required to hire someone who does. If you think you do, great.
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The challenge of finding the skills in a mid-size business
Many mid-size businesses struggle to make big changes due to scale. Legacy technology weighs them down and leadership are bogged down in operational issues – too busy working IN the business to work ON the business. Money is tight, or they may not see the urgency of change, or be unwilling to change.
This hints that the first skill to obtain is a visionary who can do the blue-sky thinking and has the skills to analyse the business, sell the vision and make it pay.
- Entrepreneurship that questions everything, comes up with fresh ideas and sells them to the stakeholders. If this isn’t you then this person is someone to hire and hold on to – they may end up running the business for you one day.
- Technical leadership that can look at your business and introduce new ideas and technology to inform your strategy – this kind of expertise is best outsourced to experts, like Tecala, who spend their careers looking for technological solutions.
The devil is in the detail
With direction and a big-picture goal, you’ll need someone to dig into the detail of how the business works now, and how it needs to work in the future. A good analyst, or team of analysts, will work quickly to thoroughly understand your business and create a set of requirements and specifications for the new system.
- Systems analysis and design. You are not going to need these long-term, so outsource to consultants.
The need for technical expertise
You are likely to need technical experts to install and bed-down new systems. Right now, it’s near impossible to find good technical people outside digital leaders and tech businesses. Australia is currently critically short of cyber security specialists, and the key skill areas outside of cyber security like networking and wireless, are also tight.
- Technical staff to assess the design, implement the systems and test them – almost impossible to hire in-house, and not core to your business, so outsource.
Your new systems will need to be trained-out to your teams. It may be useful to have someone who has been close to the project to design the training, as they’ll be aware of the knowledge gap to be bridged.
- Trainers who can bring the staff up-to-speed with the new systems. Initially you’re probably going to need to outsource some training to cover your whole staff in a short time. After that, retain a trainer on staff if there is a business need, otherwise outsource.
You can do it in parts, as long as the parts work towards the overall vision
Your grand vision may be bigger than your business can achieve now. If so, you should still plan the grand vision, but be willing to execute it in achievable sub-projects.
Documenting your grand vision is important because the sub-projects must dovetail with each other to achieve the end goal.
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- Excellent project management people that can dig into detail with an eye on the overall goal. IT project management is a specialised skill and hard to procure, so outsource.
Hire the transformation, outsource the digital
Are you seeing the pattern here?
The “digital” is a means to an end. You don’t need to create or expand your ICT team to enable a digital transformation because the change is a one-off.
The “transformation” is critically important. Hire agile and flexible staff who will build your business – deal with customers, develop or produce your product or service or otherwise support sales, production or marketing.
The summary list
Skills to hire, because you will use them long-term:
- Training, if you will have an ongoing training need
Skills to outsource, because you will not need them after the project is complete:
- Technical leadership
- Systems analysis and design
- Technical staff used for implementation and testing of the new system
- Training, if you will not need a dedicated trainer after the transformation
- Project management, to make all the parts move together
- Any other technical skills related to the digital implementation
Tecala has all these digital skills in-house. so when you need to outsource, talk to Tecala.