Think about digital transformation: Do you see a company digitizing its manual processes? The picture is correct, but not complete. It lacks an important component: the human being. In this article, you will find out which central role humans play in this.
For companies, the digital skills gap of their employees can be a problem.
What is digitalization about? That’s why we want to standardize processes and possibly even automate them – with the aim of relieving our own employees so that they can devote themselves to really important to-dos. Because no one really needs repetitive, monotonous routine tasks! It is not by chance that they are considered the number one efficiency killer.
Efficient processes are vital for companies. In order to remain competitive, there is no way around introducing new technologies. But this is only the first step. Technology for its own sake has lost nothing in companies, but nothing at all. It must be easy for employees to use and noticeably relieve them in their everyday work – regardless of whether they are a well-educated, digitally savvy university graduate or an old hand who is about to retire. The current study “Digital Skills Gap” of the Initiative D21 shows that employees in this country deal with the requirements of digitization very differently competently. The majority of them have a high level of application competence and use digital solutions and devices confidently. However, only a few understand the underlying mechanisms and relationships. There are strong differences – depending on age, education and type of professional activity.
Actively accompany digital transformation
This makes it all the more important to actively accompany the digital transformation. Because it starts in the head of each individual employee. While some can’t get enough of the “hot shit”, i.e. digital tools and helpers, others just manage to program their VHS video recorder. Nevertheless, companies are well advised to take even the less technology-savvy on their digitization journey. This primarily requires education. Because many fear: “If we digitize this now, will they still need me? Will my job be rationalized? Will an AI soon do my job? Do I have to worry about him?“
Digital Skills Gap
According to the study, the ability to open up the digital world through understanding and independent learning depends in particular on education. More than 60 percent of people with a high level of education can acquire knowledge on their own, 54 percent dare to help others with problems. The situation is different for people with medium (36 and 33 percent, respectively) and low education (24 and 19 percent, respectively). In addition, digitally less competent people are less likely to recognize the need to expand their digital competence.
For companies, the digital skills gap can become a problem. You need to talk to your employees, listen to them, dispel their fears. With an elaborated change concept, which of course has to fit the respective company and its individual situation, such discussions are much more expedient than from the much-quoted gut. Professional change management is often the key that opens the door to the minds of employees. It is no coincidence that the study identifies the development of comprehension skills, the understanding of contexts and underlying mechanisms of digital applications and devices, as a central task.
Those who succeed in this first, so important step will experience that their workforce will become more digital step by step. Of course, this change is facilitated by the fact that more and more digital natives are working in companies. They use technology as a matter of course, BUT: often it remains with pure use. According to the study, only 14 percent of the higher educated, including many digital natives, master a programming language. This is far from enough for a comprehensive digital transformation! Neither the employees nor the companies are to blame for this. It is the education system that does not prepare our children well enough. Why don’t all students learn the basics of programming? More than Boolean algebra, an understanding of loops and the like would not have to be at all for now.
It is too short-sighted to pass on this responsibility to the companies. Who is to “make” the transformation? A single department like IT can’t do that. How should it do that, when it is already fully utilized in many places with the operation of the existing systems? Rather, all employees must recognize the digitization or automation potential of their own workplace. Or what is necessary to make your own work more efficient. Ideally, the employee is then able to optimize the processes himself. But this is – at least for the moment – perhaps still an ambitious dream.
As of 30.10.2020
Consent to the use of data for advertising purposes
I agree that Vogel IT-Medien GmbH, Max-Josef-Metzger-Straße 21, 86157 Augsburg, including all companies affiliated with it within the meaning of §§ 15 et seq. AktG (hereinafter: Vogel Communications Group) may use my e-mail address for sending editorial newsletters. Lists of the associated companies can be found here.
The newsletter content covers products and services of all the aforementioned companies, including, for example, trade journals and specialist books, events and trade fairs as well as event-related products and services, print and digital media offers and services such as further (editorial) newsletters, competitions, lead campaigns, market research in the online and offline area, subject-specific web portals and e-learning offers. If my personal telephone number has also been collected, it may be used for the submission of offers of the aforementioned products and services of the aforementioned companies and market research.
If I call up protected content on the Internet on portals of the Vogel Communications Group, including its affiliated companies within the meaning of §§ 15 et seq. AktG, I must register with further data for access to this content. In return for this royalty-free access to editorial content, my data may be used for the purposes mentioned here within the meaning of this consent.
Right of withdrawal
If it is the employees themselves who “make” the transformation, they realize that they are not superfluous, but create valuable added value themselves: they drive change forward, day after day. And maybe it will be possible, if the ideas bubble together, to develop new digital products that can make the decisive difference.