Investing in digital technology is a loss without employees who can make it useful, experts say

Soon study revealed that one in four Canadian technology leaders believes that their use of digital tools and technologies has little or no effect on real business value.

The KPMG study notes that it is not enough for companies to simply publish a new website and then forget about it. According to the company, meaningful digital transformation requires full digital end-to-end experiences, driven by technology that generates value in the long run.

“Many organizations just need to be more mindful of how technology can really help employees do their job or help customers live.… The first big thing is to really understand and empathize with what people need technology for.” said Professor Catherine Broman, associate professor and director of the master’s program in digital product management at the Smith School of Business.

Digital skills are no longer valuable only to IT staff. As digital transformation continues to be a major focus for organizations, it is vital that all employees are properly trained in digital skills, Broman said. Without this practice, Canadian companies and employees are at risk of being abandoned.

A global study of companies with more than 1,000 employees from the research firm RAND Europe found that more than half agree that the shortage of digital talent has led to a loss of competitive advantage and that if the digital skills gap is not closed soon, it will have a negative impact on product development, innovation and customer experience. In addition, business investment in technology is a loss without paying equal attention to employees, who can actually make it useful and bring value to the business.

Employers are currently focusing on finding technology talent and improving the skills of their employees in digital technology.

“It all comes down to this whole idea that organizations need a fundamentally new set of practices to meet the needs of the digital age. That’s why these new skills are really in demand, “Broman said.

She said common work practices are changing and the usual set of training employees receive may no longer be enough.

Digital product management is a newer practice based on old project management practices that use marketing techniques, product management and technical tools, Broman said.

“So when you put technology and product management together, you come up with this new practice, and this new practice is really the new skill set.”

She said that the main priority in this practice, as well as to increase the skills of employees in general, is low code and no coding skills.

“The ability to use these low-code codeless tools so you can interact with technology without actually having to code is probably the most important skill,” Broman added.

While actual technical skills seem to be what many organizations focus on, Broman said the biggest gap is actually linking technology practices to business practices and effectively using digital skills to improve business.

As for the real steps that business can take, she suggested social and creative ways to engage everyone, and learning, like a hackathon, is a good place to start. Broman also noted that some companies have built digital labs, but they need to be designed “quite carefully” to really work.

Other steps that businesses can take include reengineering current technology management practices and finally informing and educating senior management about what digital transformation means.

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