It seems that UK leaders still need reminding that people are what makes the difference between success and failure in a digital transformation programme, not technology.
New research published today by Capita Resourcing finds that four-fifths of HR leaders (82 per cent) reckon their workforce needs to improve its skills in order to get the most out of digital transformation. The vast majority (94 per cent) of HR leaders report difficulties accessing the skills their organisation requires to support its transformation objectives, and the research reveals that many of the most significant transformation challenges facing organisations are skills-related.
Significantly, more than one third (36 per cent) of businesses are suffering due to a lack of leadership skills and experience of running change programmes, while 35 per cent are finding it difficult to predict future jobs and skills requirements. Beyond this, 29 per cent are held back by a lack of digital skills among their workforce and 28 per cent are hampered by a lack of access to high quality digital talent.
The white paper based on the research, The Case for Workforce-led Transformation, also reveals that there is still too much emphasis placed on technology. More than 200 HR leaders at companies employing more than 100 people reported that their organisations have primarily focused on technology within their digital transformation programmes, in terms of resource, investment and time. Only one third felt that culture and people have been a key focus in their transformation strategies up until now, and only 35 per cent stated that skills had been prioritised.
“Our research has clearly highlighted that digital transformation is about so much more than just technology,” says Geoff Smith, executive director at Capita Resourcing. “Organisations must start to realise that transformation always needs to be workforce-driven. He adds that HR must protect and establish the right culture and behaviours within the workforce and they must also work closely alongside their counterparts in IT.
This isn’t the first research study to throw light on why organisations find digital transformation so difficult even though it has been on the agenda for several years now. There is no doubt that such transformation represents one of the biggest and deepest change programmes that some organisations have ever faced. In many cases, it touches every part of an organisation so, of course, is going to bring a significant number of challenges. But organisations must learn from others and stop repeating the mistake of placing technology before people. Problems also seem to be rooted in the silo-based mentality that has existed in too many companies for too long. The far-reaching nature that digital transformation brings exposes the risks of departments and a lack of joined-up thinking within firms.
Ultimately, there is only one direction in which to look to address these issues: the top. Once again a lack of leadership is cited as one of the problems but there is only a limited window of time left in which this void can be tolerated and it is already threatening the future of companies. Leaders need to ensure that not only must skills, culture and talent rise to the top of the agenda but that they remain there throughout the digital journey and beyond.