A performing organization is always in the middle of a transformation – be it a technology transformation, changes to the operating model, or creating a global organization with an increasingly efficient use of capabilities. Google is the best-known name in the industry for transformation through its Moonshot projects like Project Loon, which focuses on beaming the internet to rural or remote areas, or attempting to create an alternate social media channel through Google+. However, some companies that are slow to embrace change are struggling to reinvent themselves.
The success of any transformation lies in the ability of the organization in building enduring talent capabilities for the future. How do organizations build the talent capabilities that help them in their transformation journey? Here are my top 5 talent best practices that I’ve seen help large transformation programs.
Brand your transformation
The success of any transformation depends on the talent and the best way to get talent buy-in is to familiarise the transformation roadmap through internal branding. This ensures that your employees understand the objectives of the transformation and lead the way for the organization to transform. The Digital India initiative launched in 2015 is a good example of leading the transformation with the right branding and improved awareness through multiple channels. This program not only reached millions of Indian citizens but also enabled widespread participation from both Indian states and the general public.
Hiring new talent definitely does the fillip for skills shortage, however, one of the critical success factors for a transformation is to upskill your existing employees. A focused upskilling program with adequate learning resources, a structured training program in collaboration with leading e-learning organizations, and associated rewards and recognitions not only motivates your employees but also makes it easy for them to achieve their learning targets. The $191 billion Indian IT industry is a classic case study on upskilling employees to respond to transformation. The industry has seen multiple transformations over the last two decades, starting with Y2K to Web 2.0 to digital transformation recently. The Indian IT industry has been able to tide over and emerge successful through several of these transformation journeys through its successful upskilling programs.
Blend-in new talent
Any technology transformation cannot happen without bringing in a new and diverse talent pool. Hiring should focus on industry-best talent as they will not only bring in the technical expertise in-demand but also help in upskilling your internal employees. In 2020, many Indian IT majors acquired several small technology firms focused on cloud technology. One of the key drivers for these acquisitions was to leverage the complementary cloud talent from these companies to tap the projected global cloud investment of $320 billion in 2021.
Nothing motivates employees like games and healthy competition. Building fun-based competitions involving gamification techniques helps to accelerate learning and even solve complex technical problems. Also, it helps to identify hidden talent in the organization. People who have worked in COBOL will vouch that fixing compilation errors consumed a lot of time. In a former role, one of the program teams that I worked with on legacy modernisation decided to run a simple debug competition in COBOL to pick their best team. This contest helped unearth hidden gems from the talent pool and this helped the team to put their best team forward for the legacy modernization program. There are many examples like these in several teams or organizations that use gamification to tap and upskill their talent.
It is important to strike the right technology partnership for any transformation program. Collaborating with technology partners on use cases, developing proof of concepts, and providing round-the-clock support to employees helps to lead the transformation with cross-expertise and creativity. Many companies working on cloud transformation enter into support plans with major cloud service providers to maximize support and cross-leverage expertise required for transformation.
COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption, resulting in technology disruptions across all industries globally. In a joint report, Future of Technology Services – Navigating the New Normal, prepared by NASSCOM and McKinsey, NASSCOM states that technology service providers saw a 30% jump in digital transformation deals since the pandemic outbreak. Adapting to these transformations mandates organizations to get their basics right and build a strong talent foundation. The TIOBE index shows the variations in the popularity of various programming languages over the years. Many programming languages move in and out of the index. However, programming languages like C have always stayed put and topped the index for many years. Similarly, a company with a strong foundation for talent and the right mindset to quickly adapt is well-poised for leading technology transformation in the industry.
With regards to talent in India, the country has been identified as a top over-performer in terms of readiness in using, adopting and adapting frontier technologies like AI, big data as per the UNCTAD global index. As long as we continue to nurture our talent and ensure proper talent engagement, India is well-positioned to lead the digital transformation globally.