The Skill Gaps that Need Attention Now

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Digital transformation has picked up speed as businesses adopt technology to overcome challenges presented by the health guidelines as a result of the coronavirus.

Process automation software, robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and video meeting platform are examples of technologies implemented. These technologies expedite work streams and support work activities that no longer could be performed safely and effectively in the current state of flux.

Working with digital tools requires new skills. Some of these skills are relatively easy to pick up. For example, using Zoom to facilitate virtual meetings. Some need special training but one could become quite eloquent with practice. For instance, automate processes using low-code applications. Others require intensive training. For instance, big data analytics.

Digital leaders recognize that skill gaps are widening in the organization as the pace of digital transformation escalates.  There are two main options: hire externally and invest to train internally.

Hiring people with the required technical experience and skills is a faster track to close the skill gaps. Potentially, the pandemic might have created a pool of talent available for hire.

Alternatively, training the workforce is an excellent option to retain talent.

The second option takes time. Also, the learning curve could be high. To do it well, you need to address a few questions.

Which skills are needed? This requires a review of the business’ strategic road map. The exercise helps to identify capability gaps that the business has to bridge in executing its plan. The review also prioritizes the relative importance of the gaps. When the skill gap is associated with a mission critical objective, you want to address it as quickly as possible.

Who are the candidates for development? Learning new things and taking on a different role involve change. Not everyone is prepared to dive in. To find suitable candidates, have a candid conversation with the individual about career aspirations and expectations. It is a conscious choice for both sides, the business and the candidate, to assess fit for the opportunity.

Does it make sense to build the expertise in-house? While it might be appealing to have in-house expertise to tackle problems when they arise, it is not a sound investment when the skill doesn’t add to the core competencies. Why hire a programmer to develop a proprietary ERP (enterprise resource planning) application when there are so many ERP choices readily available? On the contrary, if having augmented reality expertise to build an extension of a specific application means a distinct competitive advantage, you want to beef up the skill internally.

The above questions require you to take an impartial view of what is missing in your skills inventory and verify how closing the gaps would advance your business. When you are proactive, you would be well positioned to compete and thrive.

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