The explosion of digital transformation and opportunities for skilled workers
The IDC has predicted that worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies and services is forecasted to reach $2.8 trillion by 2025 and in another survey, 70% of businesses believe that digital transformation initiatives are critical in improving customer experiences. Yet, despite that, Forbes says that only 7% of companies have fully implemented their digital transformations. This means that massive gaps still exist in organizations being able to find skilled employees that can lead the Digital Transformation process and exploit the opportunities that it brings.
You can’t turn left or right these days without encountering an article, webinar, or blog around the topic of digital transformation centred on why it is so important for businesses to lay out a plan for adoption and why the gap between the demand for skilled employees and the supply thereof is ever widening.
Udacity’s CEO Gabriel Dalporto, says that the talent shortage has reached a crisis pitch, adding that if companies do not invest in talent transformation they are destined to fail, as the lack of job-ready digital talent has become an existential threat to businesses around the world.
To unpack the facts about the opportunities that abound for digital natives and the need for workers to upskill or reskill to take advantage of lucrative and in-demand digital transformation careers, Jennifer Bangoura, EdD, Nexford’s Director of Career Innovation, Austen Stranahan, Chief Operating Officer, Shortlist Professionals, Dwayne Asembo, Project Manager, Shortlist Professionals, and, Yemisi Lanre-Idowu, International and Multimedia Journalist, put this hot topic under the microscope in an enlightening webinar.
Navigating the digital work landscape
Now, more than ever before, the digital landscape is exploding, and companies are being required to dramatically upskill their workforce to take advantage of the opportunities that digital transformation brings. Not only do companies have to upskill their workforce, they need to be adopting digital tools such as generative AI, ChatGPT, and Google Bard to help streamline critical business processes by minimizing effort and maximizing output. But first people must overcome the fear that these AI tools will impact work and displace workers.
Austen says that there is a famous quote which goes, “Generative AI will not take your job, but someone who knows how to use these tools will.” So those who think that they can get by with skills from yesteryear are in for a very big shock. You need to learn how to adopt and use these technologies to add more strings to your bow to make yourself a more adept and agile digital worker for employers, or for whatever kind of career you choose to pursue. For example, if you're a designer, it can help you get to a low fidelity, mock much quicker. If you're a developer, it can help you write top-notch code quicker.
As far as how AI is affecting the media world, Yemisi entered the conversation saying that even journalists now must master AI or risk being drummed out of a job. She said that it's very important that even people who once thought they had a job for life need to wake up and smell the coffee. Gone are the days when you just woke up and decided to write a story. Journalists now need to train themselves on how to best use generative AI tools to be able to get into the digital world and remain there. It’s all about deciphering the best platform to use to push out a story specific to an audience.
Essential digital skills and qualifications to make it big
Frank Sinatra sang the famous words, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere, New York, New York.” To make it in the digital world you’ll need far more than one single skill which in Frank’s instance was a good voice. First off there are the soft skills such as strong communication and problem-solving.
In terms of digital skills, Dwayne maintains that would really depend on the kind of digital job people are looking for. But one main area that crops up time and time he says is any vocation that has to do with data management. There’s data collection and data analysis and so much more that goes on in this industry, so anyone who has those data management skills will have a long and lucrative career ahead.
Dwayne went on to say that although those are more advanced digital skills, these days to just exist in the modern workplace you need to understand how to use basic Google Suite skills. They are especially important when you go into digital jobs or work remotely. Everyone tends to use these tools where they need to contribute to certain projects. You might get taught this during onboarding, but it is best to get ahead of the curve and learn how to use them before the job and indeed before the job interview so that you can demonstrate that you are proficient in these digital tools.
Austen picked up on that by saying that nobody loves change, but you must embrace it and adapt. We have to learn how to be comfortable in big ambiguity and understanding that things change frequently, so earlier in your career, you can really become comfortable with change and embrace it. You must navigate new digital tools almost on a daily basis. He referred to Dwayne's point on soft skills and hard skills but believes that there's an area in the middle that he referred to as durable or professional skills.
The reason why Austen calls these durable skills is because they're the skills that will most likely, if you acquire them, be able to be used deep into your career. Examples of those skills would be collaboration, mindset and attitude, resilience, and motivation. These are things Austen maintains that if you learn them, they are going to be a part of your career forever, and you're not going to have to relearn a new version.
It's all about your mindset when you pitch up at work. How do you communicate with your colleagues? How do you manage your boss? How do you learn how to be become a manager? It really comes down to a growth mindset and your ability to navigate the workplace. And when it comes to more technical skills, it just depends on what career you're looking to pursue. But whatever you choose, it’s about constant learning and being prepared for the jobs that are being created in 2024, 2025, and beyond.
Career strategies for success
As the digital industry is so vast, and there are over 100 jobs to be exploited in it, there is no golden bullet when it comes to career strategies for success. If you're in coding, you're constantly having to problem solve and think of creative ways to write good code. Whatever digital work you're in, use creativity to express who you are as a professional. And creativity can come out well before you get the job. So, when you're thinking about digital work, treat your job application as an opportunity to showcase your digital skills. And maybe that can be a little bit of a substitute for some of the experience that they're looking for.
Also, you can’t put enough emphasis on networking. As Dwayne says when people think about networking, they think events, but it's actually beyond events. It's connecting on LinkedIn and joining like minded groups. But as he said what really works is if you see a recruiter has posted a job and you apply to it, there's nothing wrong with reaching out to the recruiter and saying, “Hey, I saw this job, I applied my email address, and I've also reattached my CV here.”
You could even be so brazen enough to reach out to the CEO. You might be ignored, but the person could be impressed with your confidence and put you forward to the hiring person. If you reach out to someone, be thoughtful in your outreach, understand who they are, and you share something that's personalized. It's always better to hone in on a few people rather than send a message that’s copied and pasted. That sense of thoughtfulness is critical.
In closing, if you ask experts what the career strategies are for digital work, most will say…
1. Continuous Learning Stay updated with the latest trends, tools, and technologies in your field. Enroll in online courses, attend webinars, join workshops, and obtain certifications relevant to your industry.
2. Specialization Focus on a specific niche or area within the digital domain where you can develop expertise. Specialization can make you stand out and become an authority in your field.
3. Networking Build a strong professional network both online and offline. Engage with peers, industry experts, and potential mentors through social media, forums, conferences, and local meetups. Networking can open opportunities for collaboration, learning, and career advancement.
4. Adaptability Embrace change and be adaptable to new technologies and working methodologies. The digital landscape evolves rapidly, so the ability to adapt and learn quickly is crucial.
5. Portfolio Development Showcase your skills and expertise through a strong portfolio. Highlight your best projects, case studies, or samples of your work. A compelling portfolio can significantly enhance your credibility when seeking new opportunities.
6. Soft Skills Development Alongside technical skills, cultivate soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. These skills are equally important in the digital workplace.
7. Remote Work Proficiency As remote work becomes more prevalent, develop strong remote work habits and proficiency in remote collaboration tools. Show that you can excel in a virtual work environment.
8. Personal Branding Build your personal brand online. Maintain a professional online presence through platforms like LinkedIn, personal websites, and industry-related forums. Consistently share valuable insights, projects, or opinions related to your field.
9. Seek Feedback and Mentorship Request feedback on your work and seek mentorship from experienced professionals in your industry. Constructive criticism and guidance from mentors can help you grow and improve faster.
10. Stay Agile and Proactive Be proactive in seeking out opportunities for growth and advancement. Stay agile in your approach, be willing to take on new challenges, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Ready to upskill and start your career in the digital workplace with a remote job working for a global company? A great place to start is with a Master of Science in Digital Transformation that will ensure you’re able to position yourself at the forefront of the tech revolution.
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