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Don’t Let a Skills Gap Jeopardize Digital Transformation, Map Out Your Skill Development Plan Today

Feature Article | September 12, 2017 by Bernd Welz Hot Story

Do the people in your organization have the necessary digital skills for the future? If you’re not sure that your employees are ready to contribute strategically on emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, bots, blockchain, Internet of Things, and Big Data, now is the time to act to stay competitive.

In a recent study by Technical University Munich (TUM), 64% of companies surveyed said that they do not have the people with the skills necessary for digital transformation. Surprisingly, however, only 16% of companies have a skill development strategy in place to either up-skill current employees or acquire new employees with the needed skill profiles. As these numbers show, the digital skills gap poses a serious challenge for businesses today. The hard reality is that a lack of digital skills is the number one barrier organizations face for digital transformation.

For a CIO or HR executive, closing the digital skills gap can be like navigating uncharted territory. It requires vision, courage, and an all-hands-on-deck approach. The good news is now there’s a map to guide your journey.

Digital Transformation Strategy: Your North Star Across the Digital Skills Gap

Like many business leaders, you’ve probably given careful consideration to the digital products and business models your organization will need to explore in the future. You’ve possibly even defined a digital transformation strategy. There is an endless array of opportunities, depending on the direction in which you want to grow your business. It is especially important to start skills training early these days to understand the implications of new technologies in order to define the digital future of your company. Investment in education enables employees to succeed in evolving roles and ensures a clear path forward for both the company and the individual. By becoming aware of the possibilities of emerging technologies and platforms, you are better equipped to explore and evaluate potentially new business models. The key is to define a digital transformation strategy for your company, because this will serve as the North Star for your organization’s skill development progression.

To close the digital skills gap, first define a digital transformation strategy for your company, your North Star

To help companies assess the current state of their skill development progression and foster the skills necessary for success, SAP has introduced a maturity model created in collaboration with the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS). The model is based on a survey of 116 business and IT decision-makers from 18 countries, and a series of in-depth interviews with 24 global companies. Its purpose is to help companies define their skill development strategy and reinforce that a supportive learning environment in both culture and infrastructure is critical to growth.

“Each company’s path is unique, but all companies need to prioritize digital skill development to be successful,” said Prof. Joerg Becker, chair, Information Systems and Information Management, ERCIS. “Our maturity model gives companies a framework to assess where they are and the support to guide them to where they need to go.”

Digital Skills Maturity Model: Assess, Aspire, Adapt

The new model maps out five maturity levels for an organization in its digital skills progression – ranging from non-existent (characterized by a traditional culture, closed innovation, and inconsistent measurement) to optimized (characterized by data-driven organization, connected culture, fully digital skill management, smart learning, and learning analytics). For each level, a set of foundational enablers have been identified that characterize the culture of the company, its organization, and its attitude toward the management of digital transformation.

Similarly, the learning architecture underlying each maturity level describes the organizational approach to learning as well as individual preferred learning styles, based on four dimensions: skill management for systematically identifying and closing skill gaps; learning experience that takes into account individual preferred learning styles, like on-demand e-learning, self-learning, and informal learning approaches, as well as the learning management infrastructure; absorptive capacity for internalizing external innovations through inspiration and cross-pollination with other organizations; and learning measurement to assess the business impact of learning initiatives.

We recommend that you use the maturity model to guide your organization in defining, implementing, and adapting your skill development approach for digital transformation. Taking a systematic approach to skills development ensures that you identify and close skills gaps for digital transformation, while channeling educational investment toward maximizing business impact and facilitating meaningful learning experiences for employees. The first step is to assess the current situation in your organization by conducting a cross-functional skill gap analysis to identify current and future roles and required skills. The next step is to determine the maturity level your organization seeks to aspire to for its digital future. In the third step, you define the activities to adapt your organization to the aspired maturity level, guide improvement initiatives, and control success.

Free Webinar: Map Your Digital Skills Development Plan

More information about the maturity model and best practices will be shared in a webinar on September 14, 2017. Read the complete study and learn more about its findings here.

Close skills gaps with SAP Enablement offerings – from classroom-based learning to digital learning. Not sure where to begin? Contact SAP Education Consulting Services for a complete evaluation of the skills gaps in your organization and a plan for how to address them.

Bernd Welz is the executive vice president and chief knowledge officer for Products and Innovation at SAP

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