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Majority of companies neglect digital workforce transformation: study

Adrian M. Reodique | May 24, 2016
This negatively affects the organisations’ capacity to understand and react to digital threats and opportunities.

Companies are failing to build the necessary capabilities to succeed in the digital disruption era by neglecting digital workforce transformation.

This is according to the "Workforce Transformation in Digital Vortex" report from the Global Centre for Digital Business Transformation (DBT Centre) - an initiative of Cisco and business school IMD.

The DBT Centre studied the business models of more than 75 disruptive workforce startups and conducted interviews with its founders and/or chief executive officers (CEOs) to understand their value propositions and how they believe digitisation can transform the workforce. Senior human resources practitioners and operational leaders at large global enterprises were also interviewed to understand how they are approaching digital workforce transformation. The DBT Centre also polled 941 executives globally to assess the current state of their digital transformations and their workforces.

According to last year's Digital Vortex report, four out of 10 industry incumbents will be displaced by digital disruption over the next five years. As such, companies often focused business transformation efforts on IT and business processes to combat digital disruptors but neglected their people.

This is a worrying issue as the workforce is a critical component of digital business agility, which is the capacity of an organisation to understand and react to digital threats and opportunities.

According to the latest Digital Vortex report, companies with digital business agility in their workforces were three times more likely to characterise their financial performance as "better than average" over the past five years. However, less than 10 percent of companies admitted to be excellent in the three foundational capabilities for digital business agility, namely hyperawareness, informed decision-making and fast execution.

The study also underscored six digital accelerators that support the capabilities of digital business agility. They are:

1. Insight capture tools, which provide employees a voice through business models that integrate what they say into their decision-making and execution.

2. Work-pattern sensing tools that gather and analyse data from sensors, business applications, collaborative tools and other digital sources to understand employees' working patterns .This sheds light on the business processes that generate positive outcomes and should be spread throughout the organisation.

3. Ubiquitous analytics, in which analytics and informed devisions are embedded direclty into the work process to enable everyone in the organistion to make informed decisions.

4. Collective decision making tools that tap and connect the shared intelligence of the workforce while giving voice to diverse viewpoints and expertise, thus enabling innovation.

5. Intelligent talent allocation which uses analytics tools and employee data to ensure that the right talent within the company is put to the most strategic use in teams.

6. Agile talent pipelines tools that employ a data-driven and algorithmic approach to find the best candidates without bias.


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