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Silent heroes of Digital Transformation

Sachin Dabir | Founder & Director, Ashnik
USA, 15 Jan 2019
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15-Jan-2019

It is the beginning of a new calendar year and you may have seen numerous articles talking about technology trends for 2019 already. They come in many hues and colours such as ‘Technologies that would matter in 2019’, ‘Key technologies for Digital Transformation in 2019’ etc. There are many articles that review the year went by under the various names such as ’Technologies that did not fulfill the promise’, ’Top technologies adopted by Enterprises’ etc. And then there are a lot of discussions about ‘Digital Transformation’ – how it worked and what are the emerging trends in digital transformation. Technologies is what we all keep talking about or reading about. The supreme holy goal is to drive Digital Transformation of the business. But do we really pay enough attention to people power? Ultimately, aren’t the people themselves the ones who make adoption of these technologies successful? Do we pay attention to the transformation that people have to bring about to their skillsets and attitude to thrive in this fast-changing world? Do we empathize with their struggles in staying relevant and retaining their jobs?

If people are not successful, enterprises would not be able to deploy technologies successfully and thus wouldn’t be able to drive the transformation that is expected.

When it comes to people, most of the times, skills is an issue that is cited as one of the major challenges. While it is a big issue, I feel the bigger issue is about the ‘attitude’ towards ‘adaptability’. Let me explain why I say so.

Traditionally, in the IT teams, people have been hired for technology skills. They were provided with training and got time to learn technologies. The technologies were in vogue for a relatively longer period of time – 7 to 10 years and in many cases some technologies have been in use for over 15-20 years. This trend gave rise to the certainty of job requirements, predictability in job prospects and career growth opportunities. So, IT departments used to have a meticulous view of technical skills that was needed for unto next 5 years or ahead. They would hire for those technical skills or re-skills.

Fast forwarding to an era of cloud, containers, AI, analytics, blockchain etc. In the last 5 years alone, so many technologies, trends have surfaced, and many went down the drain. In many instances, even the new trends have invalidated older technologies or concepts. The rate of change or rate of innovation has been remarkable. People find this onslaught of innovation to be overbearing and difficult to keep pace with.

Most enterprises find it difficult to re-skill or re-train their people fast enough to leverage the fresher technologies. They don’t have enough budget to hire new people. Most of the times, enterprises bring in external consultants or vendors to get access to these new technologies. But the internal friction on the gap in technical skills continues. People are not mentally ready for this rate of change. They have not experienced the need for adopting new skills so fast in the past. Yet, now they are facing the survival challenge because their technical skills are getting outdated too fast. They don’t know how to learn new technologies and which one to learn. And on top of that, they have to compete with not just new generation of IT professionals but also with automation tools or AI.

If we have to avoid this friction, both, the IT organizations as well as IT-professionals have to pay closer attention to the ‘attitude’ aspect. ‘Learnability’ is the key aspect that makes this transition easier. “Your Learnability Quotient (or LQ) reflects your desire and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges throughout your work life.

Mr. Narayan Murthy explained idea of learnability even more eloquently in 2001 at Wharton’s MBA commencement. “We define learnability as the ability to extract generic inferences from specific instances and to use them in new, unstructured situations.”

Every person in general and IT professionals in particular have to acquire the ‘learnability’ traits to be successful in this digitally evolving world. Apart from technical skills, people have to change their attitude towards change itself. People would have to acquire mental strength and insights in making them relevant.

Rather than just technology trends and predictions for every year, I would be happier to see more discussions about how the people challenges are being addressed, what are the trends to help people develop a right attitude and hence become more successful in their careers.

After all, it is people who are the real heroes of digital transformation!

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  • Sachin is veteran in IT industry and brings over 25 years of experience in setting up new businesses, leading high performance sales teams and executing growth strategies. He is passionate about open source and is an acknowledged leader in open source in Asia. As a founder of Ashnik he is leading the growth initiatives and taking Ashnik global. His stints in Asia, UK and USA enables him to bring unique perspective to entrepreneurship and life. His interests in writing, reading and mentoring makes him an excellent networker. Currently he is learning to be a patient father to teenage sons and striving to be a good husband.

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