How Businesses are Adapting to the Digital Age with IT Skills Transformation

By Jes­si­ca Mitsch ● December 08, 2020

Long before the global COVID-19 pandemic struck the world and forced businesses in nearly every industry to launch a wide array of technology initiatives en masse, the digital transformation push was already happening across the corporate landscape.

Sustainable, successful digital transformation isn’t just about the right system or strategy – it requires the right people with the right skills to maintain and amplify the transformation across the business.

At Momentum we are partnering with companies to upskill and train employees, arming them with the optimal IT skills to help create lasting change. Businesses such as Clarkston Consulting are helping companies identify upskilling resources and strategies to adapt to the digital age. I sat down with Clarkston Consulting Partner Irene Birbeck to answer her key questions on where Momentum is seeing the greatest opportunities for businesses with regards to IT skills, how those skills are being used, and how businesses can build a successful approach to training.

What are the biggest areas of need in IT skill as clients make a digital transformation?

The biggest areas of IT need we see for our clients fall into three categories:

  1. Software development with skills in Python, the fastest growing multi-purpose software language in the world. More than half of all software development job openings are in industries outside of technology. Industries like finance, manufacturing, and healthcare are all eager to hire and grow software developers.

  2. Cybersecurity is critical for all organizations who hold data and payment information for their customers and clients and will need to keep that information safe. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that we will see a 32% growth in need for Cyber Security skills over the next decade.

  3. Data science is more important day-by-day as corporations produce over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day that need to be analyzed in order to make the best business decisions.

More than half of all software development job openings are in industries outside of technology.

Another trend that we are seeing as clients make a digital transformation is with a blend of front and back office jobs. A career in tech for example will no longer mean just sitting in a support role in the IT department. Tech talent 4.0 will mean that a basic understanding of technology will become a prerequisite for any job. For example, in 2018, Citigroup starting requiring their investment banking analysts to learn Python and many MBA schools across the country are now adding Python to their curriculum as well.

Where are IT organizations using this skill to transform their organization?

Retailers like Kroger have been propelled into transforming towards a digital enterprise as a result of the pandemic. With a website and digital presence built using Python, Kroger’s strong digital sales over the course of this year have led the business to double down investing in digital operations to enhance personalization, automation, and digital capabilities.

In the life sciences space, companies are relying more on digital tools to engage patients and communicate with them but it’s also extending to actual care. Startups like Sidekick are launching digital apps and platforms that gamify therapy across multiple areas. Leveraging many of the front-end and back-end skill sets that have been prevalent in consumer-facing industries for some time, life sciences companies are rapidly embracing the consumerization of healthcare through patient apps.

Finally, we’re seeing digital transformation in the CPG space as well. As CPG companies go direct-to-consumer, the technology foundation supporting that transformation relies heavily on relatively simple APIs that link the business with various partners in the digital chain, including eCommerce, logistics, finance, social media, etc. So as CPG giants like Coca-Cola, InBev, Clorox, and more continue to ramp up direct-to-consumer initiatives, the need for effective coding skills linking the complex digital ecosystem grows as well.

How does Momentum ensure that training is effective when it’s virtual?

Along with the rest of the world in 2020, Momentum made a quick pivot from in-person classroom learning to virtual learning. We were able to successfully apply the same principles we used to make our training effective in-person in a digital format. For starters, we never believed in a passive, lecture-based learning environment. We’ve always believed that the best way for someone to learn a new skill is through practice. Our instructors are experts at delivering learning objectives in a way that require the students to be active agents in their learning process. We do this through live coding with students, showing real-world examples quickly followed by exercises, and active dialog with students during class. Students will not find themselves in a situation where they will be asked to “sit back and listen.” It’s this training technique that makes our courses engaging and effective in a digital environment.

A career in tech for example will no longer mean just sitting in a support role in the IT department

Who makes a good candidate for upskilling?

Steve Jobs said it best, “the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” The first requisite in identifying candidates for upskilling is to understand who in your organization is interested in doing the job you hope to upskill them into. We recommend an internal campaign to allow your associates to opt-in to training. Momentum can help support this effort. We will facilitate open houses or virtual crash courses to allow your associates to see what coding is like and get a taste for the learning process. 

In our experience, companies have found success investing in upskilling employees who are 1) early in their career, 2) who have served in customer-facing roles and understand the business and see areas for improving the customer interaction and product with technology, and/or 3) are already doing work with adjacent skills.

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How do you customize courses for businesses to balance keeping the courses engaging without monopolizing all of a resource’s bandwidth?

Momentum recognizes that your organization needs to keep the wheels on the bus as you move forward with a digital transformation. Not every organization is able to completely remove associates from their day-to-day operations in order to upskill. We will work with your team to understand the business needs of upskilling, including the speed at which you’re hoping to upskill your associates and the work demands they may need to attend to while training for a new role. Our virtual training program allows us to seamlessly integrate into the daily operations for your staff. Whether they are working remotely or adopters of a hybrid workplace, we will meet your team where they are so they can seamlessly engage in an upskilling program.

Our virtual training program allows us to seamlessly integrate into the daily operations for your staff.

You do application-based learning as part of your courses, can clients use that to advance current projects in their organization?

Yes! We believe in project-based learning and practical experience for new skills to have sticking power. We love working with organizations to identify real business needs that can be solved through technology. We can work with your team to incorporate a real project throughout the learning experience. We will also work within the existing tech infrastructure your team has to ensure your investment in upskilling helps your team get ready in a new role immediately.

If these skills aren’t immediately applied, will they be lost?

No, technology skills will not be lost if they aren’t applied immediately. With that said, it would be hard for associates to not immediately apply what they’ve learned. Regardless if an associate makes an immediate transition to a new technology-centered role after an upskilling training, their new tech skills will make them more efficient and productive in any existing role.

If you’re interested in providing bridge training or continued education for associates that may not be ready to move into a new position after upskilling, our Momentum team can work with you on a course of action.