The digital transformation journey (part one): Leadership, skills and digital transformation

What are some of the major trends and issues facing the public sector when driving digital transformation?

In this first instalment of five we take a look at how effective leadership and having the relevant skills are essential elements if real headway is to be made in the drive to digital. A central component

Some organisations have embraced the digital world that we live in more successfully than others, and that’s usually where we’ve seen shifts in how traditional leadership roles operate. Digital transformation has morphed from a trend to a central component of a modern organisational strategy.

As the rate of change continues to accelerate, we predict that digital strategies will become more flexible and therefore more inclusive. New technology will need to be incorporated into an organisation’s culture and routine operations. Crucially, digital transformation needs to be about more than just technology. It needs to combine the power of technology with a culture that embraces the change that can help an organisation move forward.

A positive customer or user experience is one of the main objectives of any digital transformation programme, particularly in a climate where ‘customers’ are more cautious than ever; they’ll turn away from offerings that don’t align with their values and needs and which don’t protect their security. Every touch point matters.

Leadership must succeed

If this prediction is to become reality, leadership within the public sector needs to be strong enough to ensure all stakeholders at every level are committed to the digital journey, understand the role they need to play and the direction that the organisation is heading, in other words – what’s the digital vision?

A research study by Civica and Solace in Business found that a staggering 34% of public sector employees at middle manager level and below believe leaders need to alter the entire organisational structure, with 30% claiming a lack of clear direction is holding the sector back from effective change.

Kim Ryley, former CEO and chair, Solace in Business, commented: “The biggest barriers are not technology or resource based, they are people’s attitudes. Public sector organisations need a style of leadership that creates a sense of purpose where they can sell hope to the people, and visibly walk the walk.”

Skills development

For effective digital transformation to take place, organisations need to ensure the right mindset, digital culture, leadership and skills are in place.

Speaking at last year’s Civil Service Live event, Andrew Cleminson from Agilisys, discussed how transformative the impact of digital is on operations, the workforce and on jobs. Discussions focused on key areas of impact, including the digital skills of the people within organisations, and how they can adapt and react to the pace of change.

“Building the digital literacy of an organisation across every role is vital to ensure an organisation can benefit from the productivity and efficiency gains digital offers,” commented Cleminson.

“It is not just about the future of the current workforce, but of our future workforce. We must ensure our talent pipeline is ready to meet the employment demands of the future. A 2013 O2 report stated that only 20% of the technology jobs required by 2017 could be filled by the current generation of 16-25 year-olds. It has never been more important to prioritise and promote things like Code Camps, online coding courses, STEM training and digital apprenticeships.”

Leaders need to see digitisation as an opportunity and not a threat, if the benefits of the digital transformation are to be realised, he added. “The digital workforce is a spectrum of operational transformation – where organisations are enabled by digital technology to be more effective and productive, to deliver a better service to customers and citizens”.

Those responsible for driving change must cultivate the right mindset to effectively adopt technology and create the digital transformation that puts the need of consumers first. Leaders must also cultivate the right digital culture and learn how to drive and adapt to the changes within the workplace and embed ‘digital jobs’.

More than ever before, digital is now everybody’s responsibility, and it starts with effective leadership.

To find out how your organisation can progress on its digital transformation journey get in touch.

This article was originally published in Digital by Default News.

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