Guest blog: When should digital transformation start?

When we think of digital transformation, the first aspect that springs to mind is the technology strategy that will be required. But, although technology is fundamental, people are equally (if not more) crucial for a successful digital transformation. According to Deloitte, “lack of digital workforce skills represents a major obstacle to transformation”. Addressing this skills shortage, needs to start early to have the best impact for future careers. If we continue to ignore this problem, it’s only going to hold back innovation and lead to further technology stagnation.  

In 2016, I embarked upon the placement programme offered by UKCloud, an organisation dedicated to helping the UK Public Sector achieve digital outcomes. Having studied for a business degree, I grasped the day-to-day operations of the business quickly but found the technical side more challenging as it was all very new. Working in Product Marketing, I had a great opportunity to learn about different technologies, including the pain points faced by public sector organisations. Working in an SME, I was able to move around the business and understand how technical decisions influence the delivery of public services. My placement helped me think more holistically about business and how digital transformation requires collaboration between different stakeholders, such as suppliers, partners and government departments. Moreover, having acquired a better understanding of the technology and the cloud delivery model, now default across the UK Public Sector, I could produce marketing collateral that was compelling and resonated with government departments. Another benefit to developing technical awareness was that I could pass on that knowledge to others within the business through product training sessions, tailoring the content to ensure that staff understood the products and, most crucially, how they can help government departments with their digital transformation journey. 

Given my experience, I believe that academic business programmes should be designed collaboratively with industries to help address the skills gap. The reality is, although business programmes are great at teaching theory, the world is changing at a rapid pace and all industries will be affected by the rising demands of citizens. Therefore, business courses need to emphasise the importance of societal needs, which is a key driving force behind digital transformation. Similarly, I think employers like UKCloud should continue to support early careers, so they are better equipped for delivering digital transformation in the future.  

My colleague Shaun provides another perspective below: 

Digital transformation was a term far from home when I commenced my placement. UKCloud provided the opportunity to gain experience and exposure across a range of functions and I was quickly able to find my home and discover the areas that inspired me. That experience was fundamental to determining my future career and equipping me with the skills to enable digital transformation. Upon returning in a graduate position, it quickly became apparent that everyone has a part to play; no matter how far from the end customer your role may be, you still play a critical part in the transformation journey. My experience in HR has highlighted the importance of collaboration and communication between individuals and this requires a high-level strategy that promotes and develops a supportive culture that embraces change. People are key to transformation; technology is great but it’s nothing without the right people behind it.  

We’ve shown that, for us to deliver digital transformation, the journey must start early. In our experiences, we had good business understanding but to truly enable digital transformation outcomes, we needed to upskill from a technical perspective but also embrace a more holistic approach, encompassing people as well as technology. For career opportunities with UKCloud click here.  

Join the conversation on #procuring4growth @techUK

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