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Rakshit Ghura

Digital Dexterity: A holistic approach to workforce transformation
Rakshit Ghura Vice President & Global Head - Digital Workplace Services | December 8, 2020
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COVID-19 has been a catalyst for a paradigm shift toward increased agility in Digital Workplace technologies. This has emphasized accelerated adoption of the same. Some of the temporary changes like adoption of digital tools for creating digital workplace to ensure business continuity are expected to become a part of the new normal in the corporate world.

Digital Dexterity: A holistic approach to workforce transformation

In these times of rapid development of digital technology, a plethora of advanced tools are finding their way into our workplace as a part of digital transformations. Consequently, an ever-increasing share of employees’ work are being performed using digital tools and platforms. Therefore, it is prudent for business strategies to acquire the latest digital capabilities to optimize their internal operations and to create a better end-to-end experience to support digital businesses. This is where digital dexterity comes into our discussion.

Digital dexterity is regarded as a transformational capability that is applicable across the whole organization of different industries. It defines the critical “people” component that enables digital businesses to thrive. It’s widely understood that any resistance to change, especially from employees, has the power to thwart even the most strategic organizational change. In the pursuit of digital transformation, one is recommended to rely on a variety of approaches to encourage employees to embrace change and make the most of investments made in digital capabilities.

Organizations looking to achieve a high level of digital dexterity need employees with the cognitive and social ability to leverage new competencies, data and technology in innovative ways. As a thumb rule, organizational models to build digital dexterity should avoid having strict steps and hard deadlines. Instead, they seek to establish important milestones for each goal and re-assess plans after reaching those goals. Similarly, decision-making should be influenced by data analytics incorporating qualitative measures.

Developing a workforce that will be digitally dexterous is essential for digital businesses to thrive in the current business landscape. But the question of who should be in charge perplexes many organizations. It may be logical that the IT division should take the lead because of the technology aspect of digital transformations. But promoting an organization-wide shift in attitude isn’t exactly in the realm of our technology experts.

So how should we go about it?

The Human Resource division, in full collaboration with line-of-business leaders, should be responsible for spearheading the effort to promote digital dexterity in workforce practices. They should implement a strategy for attracting, developing and retaining the optimum mix of staff with requisite skills, talent and competencies. Also, initiate and run a digital training service, making available a wide range of programs and tool options based on current and new capabilities in digital technology.

Upgrading the average technological aptitude of all teams is a must, which will mean adopting an evolved approach to software onboarding and employee training. As mentioned before, the accelerating pace of technological development will make those employees who demonstrate the ability to learn and exploit the evolving digital tools the most dexterous. This will be crucial for the adoption of cloud-based SaaS apps where updates and new tools are rolled out in a quick and consistent basis.

Engage employees in programs that build digital dexterity such as hackathons, innovation programs, and citizen development and IT job rotations. Use digital workplace programs with an organizational maturity model to systematically drive digital dexterity and workplace analytics to measure and monitor impact. Backfill gaps in digital dexterity via talent search across the organization, through worker realignment and purposeful recruitment processes coupled with exploiting outsourced talent.

Clearly align digital dexterity initiatives with your organization’s data science strategy and digital transformation objectives. This entails building core citizen data science competencies across the organization in a systematic fashion that should engage HR and business stakeholders. Going ahead with a plan to cultivate digital dexterity will require solid leadership and acceptance and not just training schemes and technical support. HR will have to lead the way, while team leaders should make use of workplace analytics for addressing the needs of individual employees a priority. This comes in the form of mentorship, clear communication, and importantly, more effective software onboarding. Like any transformative initiatives, getting employees to develop an authentic interest in the vision of digital technology adoption requires an open mind from the organization. If dexterity is the necessary precursor to adoption, then an open mind is the necessary precursor to dexterity.

The leadership needs to embrace the positive correlation between technology growth, the future of work and employee engagement to fuel digital dexterity investments. The employees who will accept how the business is evolving, thereby wanting to develop greater digital skills in that vein, will be instrumental in driving your organization forward.