Learning Digital: Early starters advantage

Learning Digital: Early starters advantage
Dr. Renate Strazdina, Country Manager, Microsoft Baltics

These days, there are many talks about digital sales, digital marketing, digital finance, digital manufacturing, and other traditional organizational functions going digital.

Back in 2016, Josh Bersin asked in a Harvard Business Review publication “What’s a CEO to do? Should you hire a chief digital officer? Should you replace your executives with leaders from internet companies? Should you force everyone to learn about mobile computing and digital business models?”[1].

I do not believe that replacing people is the correct solution to the digitalization of businesses. Instead, we need to create an environment where everybody is eager and able to learn, acquire new digital skills, and apply them in their roles.

In my earlier article, I looked at skills for the digital era. This time, we will look at some of the available learning paths for staff that may not have always been at the forefront of technological advances – e.g., marketing, HR, and salespeople. These people now need to learn how to innovate in their roles by using the available technologies.

Let us start with why. Why should non-IT people start learning about technology right now? Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently noted, “we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” While it is easy to agree with this observation, it is less clear whether organizations have managed to improve their employees’ digital skills to the level they can carry on with the digital transformation and reap its benefits. Some evidence shows that that may not be the case universally.

Microsoft’s recent research shows that businesses face a skills crunch: only 3.5% of CEE employees today fully meet digital skills needs (this excludes IT personnel)[2]. My personal experience shows that technologies are advancing so fast that one might need to spend 2-3 hours every week just to be up to date. Learning something new is likely to require more time still to get the necessary knowledge. (I was recently learning to build power apps and spent around 4-5 hours every week for three weeks before I got my necessary certification).

Likely, not everyone has been able to invest the time needed for digital upskilling. The time to fix that is now as it is increasingly evident that we will live in a hybrid working mode for some time to come, and possibly permanently in some industries. It means that our customers will remain remote, and we will need to find ways to understand their needs and how our organizations can meet those needs. The same sentiment applies to our partners and colleagues.

Dr. Renate Strazdina, Country Manager, Microsoft Baltics

Next, let us address how. The standard way of approaching this is to think about your role and responsibilities and ask how technologies can help you. Some of us will know the answer, while others will be less sure. However, everyone should be able to find some inspiration on LinkedIn Learning.

If you work in a marketing department, you might be interested in the “Become a Digital Marketing Specialist” learning path. Construction industry staff may want to try to “Become a BIM Coordinator“. For those in manufacturing, “Get Ahead in the Manufacturing Trades” could be a rewarding path to take.

Finding relevant learning paths is simple – go to <Learning Path> and type in your keywords in the search field. You can also search for courses on specific subjects or software.

The length of the learning path will typically be between 6 and 30 hours. Of course, you need to factor in more time for reflection, adaption, and implementation of the newly acquired skills.

My experience shows that LinkedIn Learning courses both supply inspiration and paint the bigger picture of the direction in which a particular role is developing, what knowledge and skills will be required to be successful in the role, and how technologies are affecting the setting.

After scouting out the landscape and trends, you can take the next step by learning relevant technology skills (e.g., data analysis or process robotics) via Microsoft Learning.

Research shows that businesses that invest in staff training see an improvement in their profit margins of up to 24% [3]. Correctly executed upskilling programs should be bringing in the first tangible results quickly.

Consider your personal development as a professional, too:

  • If you work in marketing, learn how you can develop a simple solution that will allow you to measure your customer sentiment in social media and receive instant feedback if particular phrases are mentioned.
  • If you are a sales team leader, learn how to create an automated workflow that will remind your salespeople with push notifications to follow up with the webinar participants a week after the event.

With this newly acquired knowledge, you will help your organization transform the business model and become more efficient.

In CEE, only 3.5% of employees today fully meet digital skills needs, so it is easy for you and your organization to become the front runners.

Or you can stay behind and wait.

[1] Digital Leadership Is Not an Optional Part of Being a CEO
Up-skilling is crucial to maintain digital transformation acceleration, a new Central and Eastern Europe survey finds
Profiting From Learning: Do Firms’ Investments in Education and Training Pay Off?

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