To solve the talent shortage and spur digital transformation companies must gain operational efficiencies by training employees to use innovative software.
Digital transformation promises to link business models, strengthen supply chains, drive new revenue growth, and improve business outcomes. So what's standing in the way of digital transformation in enterprises across the U.S., Europe and the U.K.?
More than anything, it’s a lack of “job-ready” digital talent. So says the recent Talent Transformation Global Impact Report from training platform Udacity and the market research and consulting firm Ipsos.
Based on interviews with 2,000 managers and more than 4,000 employees in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, the survey paints a disturbing picture of the state of digital transformation thanks to the digital talent gap.
The report makes it clear: The number one problem with companies trying to innovate is being able to hire and keep the right employees with the right skill set.
“Breakthrough innovation demands radical talent transformation,” it says in the introduction. It goes on to say: “Shortages in job-ready digital talent are stalling enterprise innovation. Compounding this emergency is low employee satisfaction and high employee turnover. The key to breaking this cycle? Closing talent gaps by delivering effective workforce development opportunities.”
The Big Digital Transformation Stallout
For years, companies of all sizes have known that strategic digital transformation is vital to their success today and their survival tomorrow. They’ve struggled to achieve it, often for technical reasons, but more often because they don’t have the right mix of employees with digital talent and business acumen.
The report puts it this way: “Digital transformation is stalling due to lack of job-ready digital talent. Fifty-nine percent of enterprises report that not having enough skilled employees has a major or moderate impact on business. Because the talent pool has become so shallow, hiring is not the quick fix enterprises hope it will be—transforming existing talent is the one and only course of action.”
Digital Talent is Hard to Find and Hire
It warns: “As the world continues to go digital, businesses don’t have the talent to deliver on initiatives — and the talent gap continues to widen as technology advances. Recruiting and retaining high-caliber talent has become more difficult than ever. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges, magnifying the need for skilled employees to prevent business deadlock.”
Because of that, it notes, “59% of enterprises report that not having enough skilled employees has a major or moderate impact on business.” More worrying is that “46% of enterprises have experienced project delays due to lack of job-ready talent.”
Companies Aren't Training Employees for Digital Transformation
The problem with building a workforce capable of helping transform businesses goes far deeper than not being able to hire people with the right digital skills. It’s that most businesses aren’t set up to properly train the people they hire, or to retrain existing staff with up-to-date skills. They’re not at all in sync with their employees. Some even underestimate the power of a simple job aid, a training brochure, or a business playbook.
That’s a problem not just because it makes it difficult for companies to upskill their staff and provide them with the right technical expertise. When staff feels undervalued or that they’re not keeping up to date with the right skills, they become disaffected. That leads to reduced productivity and increased staff turnover. And that makes digital transformation almost impossible.
The report found: “Unfortunately, a serious disconnect exists between enterprises and employees. Among enterprises that offer learning and development programs, 80% classify them as at least moderately successful. On the other hand, among employees with access to these learning and development opportunities, 55% are only somewhat satisfied or not satisfied at all.”
Workers and Candidates Don't Have the Skills Needed for Digital Transformation
Things are only getting worse from here, it warns. The talent pool isn’t growing nearly fast enough. And many of the people in that pool don’t have the skills that companies are looking for.
The report goes on to say: “The shallow talent pool means hiring hardship. Relying on yesterday's skills is detrimental to a company's competitive advantage. And there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill open roles.”
The numbers back that up. The survey found “56% of enterprises are having difficulty hiring new employees with the level of experience needed.” A similar number of enterprises, 54%, have difficulty hiring employees with the right technical skills. And 59% can’t hire new people with the technical skills they need.
Businesses Must Transform their Digital Talent or Die
The report doesn’t pull any punches in predicting what will happen to businesses that don’t find the right staff for digital transformation. They’ll die. It warns, “Enterprises that don’t radically transform their talent will fail. Having the right people with the right skills is crucial in enabling digital transformation within an enterprise — meeting innovation goals, increasing retention, and increasing employee job satisfaction and happiness.
For example, 44% of enterprises report that employee turnover is hindering the company’s ability to achieve goals.”
Employees are Hungry to Learn New Digital Transformation Skills
The report isn’t all bad news for enterprises looking to find the right staff for digital transformation. In fact, it found that employees and businesses are in synch about the need to retrain staff with new skills. It says, “Enterprises and employees are aligned about building job-ready skills. Though the disconnect about learning and development programs is severe, enterprises and employees agree on one thing: 85% of enterprises and 70% of employees value building skills that can be used on the job and for critical projects right away.”
A New Plan of Action for Digital Transformation Initiatives
Companies need to rethink their business strategy for digital transformation in the short term and long term. They know they must modernize but they are now realizing they can't hire themselves out of the situation. Companies must rethink technology and training to grow the digital talent they need within their organizations.
Finding ways to properly train employees with the skills they need is important if enterprises want to keep their existing staff. The report notes: “Development opportunities lead to less turnover, healthier workplace culture, and improved productivity. Employees are increasingly expecting that their employers will invest in their futures.”
As proof of that, the survey says that “56% of employees agree that having the opportunity to improve their skills will boost happiness at the workplace.”
The best solution to the lack of digital talent is to make the best use of an enterprise’s existing staff. Using new technologies, your staff doesn’t have to be programming professionals to help drive digital transformation. No-code/low-code platforms give staff without technical training the power to develop powerful, custom enterprise applications.
Many companies that have turned to no-code/low-code have found that it helps close the digital talent gap by helping existing staff do the work previously only done by programmers. The HPE article, “Low-code/no-code tools are filling the tech talent skills gap” points to the experience of the Vermont Electric Power Company as a perfect example of that.
The article notes, “Vermont Electric Power Company (known as Velco) has 150 employees, and these days, they're all programmers. The pandemic sapped the Vermont utility of its programming talent, and strict work guidelines exacerbated problems all around. Developing a new app—such as the COVID-19 screening app Velco's HR department wanted—would have taken months.” But using a low-code/no-code platform, Jarrod Harper, application developer, and data integrator says, “was able to get the system up and running in just 60 hours.”
Similarly, the article says, the financial startup Lendr saw big benefits from no-code/low-code – in fact, it help the company digitally transform itself. During the pandemic, Lendr had to cut 80 percent of its staff. Despite that, Nick Mates, tech lead and project coordinator told HPE that thanks to no-code/low-code, "We're able to deliver new features and functionality to the business much faster with less staff, and we haven't seen any limitations in what we can build with low-code."
With no-code/low-code, developers streamlined the entire loan submission and qualification process. "Before we implemented this in low-code, it was very manual and disjointed," Mates said. But with the platform, the average time from when a customer applies for a loan to approval has been slashed from eight hours to 80 minutes.
Software for a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy
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The company also offers a unique journey map to train these new types of developers on everything from digital technology to cloud computing. Alpha Software offers 1:1 mentoring, where a citizen developer can team up with an experienced developer for development coaching or app troubleshooting. The Company offers free app templates that offer a starting point that people can customize for their use.
Alpha Software also has thousands of training videos on YouTube to build basic apps, leverage services like google maps, add machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities, and even customize app templates. This type of "how to build an app" training can help turn any employee into a proficient modern business app developer.