The recent collapse of Arcadia Group and Debenhams demonstrates the implications of failing to address the expectations of digitally-savvy consumers.
At a time when consumers were rapidly moving online, Arcadia underinvested in digital technology. And Debenhams continued to prioritise physical stores over digital investments.
These retail giants aren’t alone. Mothercare’s demise at the end of 2019 followed years of underinvestment in its online business.
According to the Confederation of British Industry, far too many UK firms are sticking to what they know and failing to invest in the enablers of digital transformation. Recent figures from Deloitte support this: only a quarter of business leaders believe they have the talent pool to deliver their digital strategy.
Unless this changes, more failures are inevitable—and COVID will only accelerate the downfall of digital laggards.
When business and tech teams don’t talk
For too long, tech has been treated as a support function rather than a launching pad for new business value.
I’ve witnessed first-hand how a lack of understanding and dialogue between business and tech teams undermines digital transformation: wires get crossed, plans get shelved, and transformation fails.
What’s more, there’s an undeniable correlation between leaders who lack confidence in their digital skills and a failure to provide digital leadership. According to Deloitte’s Digital Disruption Index, 73% of digitally confident leaders have a coherent digital strategy in place (compared with 33% who feel they lack the necessary digital skills).
Until recently, slow, tentative steps towards digital transformation could be tolerated by businesses. All this has changed due to COVID.
The need for digital citizenship
A digitally-skilled workforce led by digitally savvy leaders is the new business imperative.
Nobody expects leaders in non-technical roles to become technology experts. But they do need to be fluent in the technologies that offer the biggest business opportunities.
Business leaders who gain this fluency become what we call ‘digital citizens’ within their organisations—catalysts who understand the potential of disruptive technologies to create new forms of business value.
They understand the urgency of technological change and champion it through effective leadership and management.
Gaining this digital citizenship takes less time than you might imagine. In our experience, non-technical leaders can gain a solid foundation in key tech disciplines in as little as 5 days.
GetTech: a short but immersive introduction to digital technology
Our GetTech programme is designed to introduce non-technical people to the most commonly adopted technologies and relevant technological concepts around today.
The goal is to demystify concepts that people without a tech background often find intimidating—and show how they relate directly to the business and various roles within it.
Participants can choose to learn with people from their own organisation or be exposed to fresh perspectives from outsiders. Either way, they’ll emerge from the experience with vital new skills, and the confidence and curiosity to keep learning.
Day 1: Transformation Simulation Day
How does a digital business operate? What are the challenges leaders of digital transformations expect to face? Our simulations enable participants to experience the potential of digital transformation and expand their understanding of what’s possible.
Day 2: Lean Start-up & Design Thinking
In many businesses, tech teams have transformed to be agile but are unable to interface with a wider organisation that continues to be slow to react to changing conditions. This day is about showing non-technical people the value of agile working methods when it comes to developing a truly customer-centric approach to solving business needs (such as designing products and services).
Day 3: Data-Enabled Decision Making
Data and analytics are key accelerants of digital transformation. This is where we help leaders grasp what useful data questions look like and how to support their digital transformation with great data stories.
Day 3 is the end of the course for some. For those who want a more hands-on experience, Days 4 and 5 offer the opportunity to develop technical skills in a safe and supportive environment:
Day 4: Learn to Code
While a career in software engineering is not for everyone, the ability to code is a powerful skill. Code is the language of the future and effective leaders will benefit from an understanding of basic coding skills when they are back in the office working with their tech colleagues.
Day 5: Cloud Experience Day
Almost all technological transformations lean on the cloud. In this structured workshop we take participants through what the cloud is, how to build cloud services, and how the cloud offers radically different ways of doing business.
Give all your decision-makers the power of a digital mindset
The content of our GetTech programme is informed by our unique end-to-end perspective on the challenge of aligning business functions with technical functions.
We unite a deep understanding of the key technologies for digital transformation with a broad understanding of how these technologies can be integrated into the wider business. This allows us to train tech practitioners in deep technical skills, as well as soft skills such as communication and leadership. And non-technologists in skills such as project management.
Ultimately QA’s GetTech programme delivers the broad understanding required to remain relevant and successful) in a digital-first world. And it does this in less than a week.
Make 2021 the year of the digital mindset. Get in touch with QA to discuss how we can help align your business and tech teams.
This is one in a series of blog posts on digital transformation. In previous posts, we looked at how to emerge stronger from this crisis, how to lead an L&D revolution, how IT leaders can develop tech talent, how to win the war for tech talent, why digital capability assessments matter, why it’s time to change our attitude to aptitude tests, and three teams that drive successful digital transformations.
Don’t miss them.
How to emerge stronger from this crisis
In the first article in our new series on digital transformation, QA CEO, Paul Geddes, exp…
How to lead an L&D revolution
In the second article in our new series on digital transformation, QA's Chief Client Offic…
How to win the war for tech talent (without hiring a single hotsh…
In the third article in our series on digital transformation, QA's Software and Cloud Prac…
IT leaders – the tech talent you need is right under your nose
QA's Tim Lloyd outlines why reskilling your existing employees will transform your technic…
Why digital capability assessments matter
Here’s how digital capability assessments can support and accelerate your digital transfor…
It’s time to change our attitude to aptitude tests
QA's Head of Talent Acquisition, Kavneet Sandhu, outlines why QA has set out to create a m…
Three teams that drive successful digital transformations
Digital transformation isn’t easy. Scaling it is even harder. Mark Solomon, our DevOps Pra…
David is a learning and transformation consultant with 20 years' experience in creating technical and learning strategies for emerging technology and digital transformation.
Currently leading QA’s Practices in Data and Digital Transformation across learning, consulting and apprenticeships, he has developed and launched capabilities and portfolios in agile engineering, design thinking, DevOps, data science, engineering and AI during his time with QA.
David possesses significant experience developing talent and transformation programmes at scale, which support executive leadership and L&D teams in talent development objectives. He has deep experience across public and private organisations, including sectors such as finance, health, telecoms and government for clients including MOD, DWP, Natwest Group, PA Consulting, Microsoft, AWS and Google.