In our European research on digitalisation, “The Digital Wave”*, leaders across industries shared their lack of certainty and direction when it comes to dealing with digital talent. The research indicates that organisations often fail to fully consider the people management aspect of digital transformation and suggests attention to the following three questions is critical in attracting and retaining digital talent:

1) Is your organisation meeting expectations in being digitally attractive to digital talent?

Our research indicates that the base level of digital technologies recruits expect from potential employers has increased. In particular, there is a greater expectation for mobile advertisements of roles so jobs can be applied for on the go. It is also expected that organisations actively use social media as a recruitment channel and engage with potential candidates on platforms such as Instagram, Youtube, Twitter or Whats App.

Additionally, greater importance is placed by younger generations on organisational ideology over job roles and duties. Recruitment messages therefore must evidence organisational values rather than simply highlight accountabilities and responsibilities to be attractive to the Digital Natives. As a Gen Y myself, I know it was the words depicting organisational values is what attracted me to join OE Cam.

2) Do you still have the right system and approach to recognise digital capability across the organisation given the increased flexible working practices and geographically diverse teams arising from digital technologies?

From my experience, very few organisations we work with look beyond the more traditional competencies to consider the specific desirable and required digital capabilities in tracking their talent. With digitalisation, more remote working and physically dispersed teams are only making these digital capabilities more difficult to track. A managed process would be required to locate individual digital skills and specialisms for organisations to be able to identify, retain and utilise the digital talent effectively. For example, talent management systems may need to track digital capabilities, such as robotics and Artificial Intelligence, in addition to more traditional capabilities and skills.

3) Do you have the right understanding of what generational differences in digital capability exist within your industry?

In some industries it was certainly the case that younger generations have better digital skills and are able to learn to use new digital tools quicker than older generations. However the same could not be said in industries such as engineering that have always had to keep up with technological advancements. Colleagues in industries with such pressures have built a positive attitude towards technological changes regardless of age. Perhaps my own father, of an older generation, is a good example being a General Manager and trained aeronautic engineer of an aerospace manufacturing company who had a need to keep up with the pace in technology.

The research also surprisingly suggests older generations may initially learn slower but are just as able to utilise digitalisation tools when trained. So contrary to expectations, there are no conflicts between generations around the use of digitalisation at a peer-to-peer level (see pg. 31 of “The Digital Wave” report).

Recruiting the right digital talent for the business needs

At OE Cam we recognise the importance of having the right mix of ‘Digital Pioneers’ and ‘Digital Transformers’ in your team. Digital Pioneers have the capability to generate innovative ideas in the ever-changing digitalisation of business context whereas Digital Transformers are able to materialise these ideas by driving through the change.

We have been supporting organisations with the identification and talent management of ‘Disruptive Talent’. Disruptive Talent are highly gifted individuals whose out-of-the-box thinking and behaviour disrupts existing working structures and/or traditional markets, giving those who employ them a competitive edge. Acting in the context of digitalisation, they can be the Digital Pioneers who generate ideas to support novel services, products and approaches to move organisations further along their digitalisation journey. Distinguishing between these Disruptive Talent who have truly remarkable ability, and those who are just plain ‘disruptive’, is not straightforward. OE Cam’s innovative approach to identifying and developing Disruptive Talent has lead us to being finalists in the ABP Workforce Experience Awards.

To adopt the right approach to attract and retain new digital talent, it is crucial to recognise the complexity of the issue caused by the changing expectations of talent, differences in capability across generations, and contrasting attitudes within specific industries.

Download “The Digital Wave” to learn more and find out about the two suggested techniques to develop digital talent based on the successes of other organisations from their digital transformation. Get in touch with OE Cam to start acting with foresight rather than reacting to Digitalisation.

* “The Digital Wave: Surfing through digital chaos for successful transformation“.  European research report from OE Cam and SPACE Consulting (2017).  SPACE Consulting Europe is a strategic alliance of leading European management consulting firms.  We help organisations work more effectively to deliver their strategy by improving their behavioural, cultural, structural and economic dimensions.  SPACE operates in nine offices across Europe, with more than 250 consultants, for both public and private organisations.