The Digital Transformation theme has been a dominant topic for the past few years among big companies and public organisations, this week a new Digital Academy has been formed to lead the NHS towards achieving a government mandated digital transformation project.

The urgency around Digital Transformation is understandable, big organisations have come to the conclusion that their operating model needs a radical change to stay relevant in the face of a changing technological landscape combined with ever capricious consumer habits and demands.

At the heart of this transformation is technology and how people use it, in an era of AI and automation, you also need a new type of leaders and workforce.

Unfortunately, there is no product or technology that exists today that will enable an organisation to be “digitally transformed” – digital transformation is a long voyage and your trusty companions are technology, people and machines. Combining all three will create an organisation that is able to respond to market changes, delivers projects faster and responds to changes in technology to keep the costs down in order to compete.

But how can you transform a traditional matrix based business into this digital nirvana? Let’s take a product company for example; in order to deliver this successfully and in a timely fashion you need a new type of workforce or as I would like to call it a team of renaissance consultants, a new breed of engineers / consultants that are capable of discovering, building, delivering and deploying a new solutions with speed and quality, adhering to business requirements, project management practices and making it look easy doing so.

This type of workforce needs to be selected carefully, things to lookout for is hybrid skills and endless capacity for learning, individuals that are highly creative and independently minded yet focused on delivering tangible value to the business. These individuals should be allowed to be entrepreneurial within the confines of their responsibilities and given the technology and tools required to achieve this.

Job roles that are advertised will also need to be hybrid in nature. Individual workers have been adapting to changes in working habits and new technology since Henry Ford invented the assembly line, nowadays the pace of change is staggering so individuals need to have the hunger and the will to continuously learn and re-skill.

The nature of the work is also shifting; projects are delivered in a micro-clustered fashion, what I would like to call an ephemeral team, a cross functional team that only comes together to deliver a project end to end, they all disband afterwards to form another team that caters for a different project. The number one skills to lookout for here is team work and the ability to build rapport with colleagues and customers alike, quickly and genuinely.

Organisations training program need to allow for this continuous learning to occur, luckily the education industry has been keeping up with these trends in digital learning, online courses are now available for free or at very reasonable prices, most are subscription based which allows for the entire portfolio of courses to be available. Universities are also open sourcing their course-ware and methods of teaching.

The last challenge

One last challenge however, since this type of hybrid workforce is scarce there is a fierce competition for talent, companies need to have the structure and the capacity to retain said talent.

Tech fluency is the new currency in Digital Transformation and you need a solid band of renaissance consultants/engineers/workforce to deliver it.