High Tech, High Touch: The Power of People in the Digital Era

More than 90 percent of organizations expect digital impact in the next two years. Does your business have the right people strategy in place to be successful?

By ManpowerGroup

We’ve been here before…

If today’s digital disruption seems familiar, that’s because it’s not the first time technology has shaken up our world. During the Industrial Revolution, it took 50 years for industries to redefine processes and scale technologies. Today’s organizations don’t have that luxury of time. Shorter business cycles challenge organizations in six months or less to either change or fail.

More than 90 percent of employers expect digital impact in the next two years.¹ As digitization advances automation and computing, 75 percent of leaders believe automation will soon require new skills.² Skilling up will require a high level of learnability; across the OECD, jobs requiring greater proficiencies are growing the fastest.³ Younger workers are coming into this environment. By 2030, millennials will make up two-thirds of the workforce,⁴ and they’ll need a high degree of learnability: 65 percent of the jobs they’ll fill over their lifetimes don’t even exist yet.⁵

For Lory Antonucci, senior consultant of organizational effectiveness for Right Management, the challenge of being successful in this digital era goes beyond technology. “These days, successful digital transformation means everybody operates from a shared, comprehensive view of the demands and capabilities required across the organization. This approach helps individuals, leaders and the organization operate under a common understanding of change and opportunity; adapt and function in an era that demands more connectivity; and to make smarter decisions that benefit both people and technology.” Transforming quickly can make the difference between organizational success and failure. Companies embracing digital transformation are 26 percent more profitable than their competitors and enjoy a 12 percent higher market valuation.⁶ To succeed through digital disruption, organizations must proactively address transformation through leadership, culture and the workforce itself.

Leader transformation

Most organizations — including early digital adopters — believe their leadership pipeline and existing leaders aren’t yet prepared to fully win at digital. Eighty-seven percent of HR leaders believe they lack the leadership talent to drive success.⁷ To thrive during digital transformation, organizations must fill their current pipelines with a community of digital-ready, connected leaders dedicated to creating the necessary culture and capability within the organization. An adaptive leadership network will be what both unlocks opportunities and drives successful digital transformation, Antonucci says.

Culture transformation

A culture of innovation is another critical differentiator. Organizations need to embrace change, take calculated risks and be open to failing fast. Culture is both the proof of the past and the foundation for the future. In these times of change, every organization needs to understand and leverage culture as its primary enabler of growth, success and survival. Organizations with a formal innovation system see significant yields: 51 percent are the first to market with most new products and services.⁸

Workforce transformation

Forty percent of employers face greater difficulty filling jobs this year than last, the highest level since 2007.⁹ The biggest threat to manufacturing isn’t machines — it’s people. Up to 2 million jobs may go unfulfilled because existing and emerging workers don’t have the necessary skills to perform them.10

Organizations and individuals need to approach digital opportunities with both a short- and long-term plan. “Invest in tools, connections and learning opportunities to gain a new sense of what’s happening with your customers and your work. Learning actions should focus on gaining updated insights, resources and innovations, and then sharing and scaling the new value that you see,” Antonucci says.

“The good news is digital leadership isn’t a total replacement of the fundamental attributes underlying leadership effectiveness. Instead, the 80/20 rule applies. Eighty percent of the competencies and enablers that have always made leaders effective remain the same. The other 20 percent is made up of the capabilities that weren’t so necessary before, but are critical now for modern and future leaders.”
— Right Management, “From C-Suite to Digital Suite” (2017)

From the digital suites to the factory floors, digital transformation is a comprehensive journey that impacts every part of an organization. To be successful, organizations must consider:

  • Are we prepared for calculated risk and set up to fail fast?
  • Are we agile and open to change, now and throughout the journey of transformation?
  • Are our processes informed by digital insights?
  • The path is clear: to thrive in the digital age, organizations need to operate with agility, deliver in the short term and adapt for the long term.

Right Management partners with organizations of all sizes to accelerate transformation success, wherever they are in the transformation journey. For more information, visit www.right.com/digitalleader.

1 E ManpowerGroup (2017). The Skills Revolution.
2 ManpowerGroup (2017). Impact of Automation in the Workforce.
3 OECD (2016). Survey of Adult Skills, OECD, 2016
4Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5 ManpowerGroup (2017). The Skills Revolution.
6 IDE (2017). The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.
7 Right Management (2014). Talent Management: Accelerating Business Performance.
8 Accenture (2015). US Innovation Survey.
9 ManpowerGroup. Talent Shortage Survey, 2016/2017.
10 Deloitte (2015). The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing, 2015 –2025 Outlook.

Right Management is the global career and talent development expert within ManpowerGroup®. We help organizations become more agile, attractive and innovative by creating a culture of career mobility and learning that nurtures future talent, motivates and engages people, and provides individuals with opportunities to increase their value throughout their careers. We improve time to value through our expertise in organizational effectiveness, career management and individual development. Find us on the web www.right.com.