Digital technology and mobile devices have disrupted the world of work, creating newer, faster and cheaper ways to do business. The need to adapt and respond to this development has made digital transformation a CEO priority. However, some HR and talent teams are unsure about where to start with digital transformation. Here’s a six-step plan for success:

  1. Assess and develop your leaders. Courageous leadership is required to drive digital transformation. Leaders must understand how the work environment is changing – and the new competencies that employees now need. These include agility, curiosity, the desire to learn, virtual collaboration, handling data, digital communication and mental endurance. Assessing your leaders against these new competencies can help them to identify any skills gaps and create a development plan for their own improvement. Your leaders should be the catalysts for, and role models of, successful digital working across your organisation.


  1. Assess and up-skill your existing employees. The winning organisations will be those that are best-placed to adapt and respond quickly to emerging market opportunities and the changing needs of customers. Hard and soft skills lie at the heart of this.


The ‘hard’ skills include the specialist technical skills that are required in leading-edge roles, such as data scientists, AI experts, cognitive technologists and analytics officers. These roles will play an important part in the digital transformation of organisations.

While the hard skills are restricted to certain roles, all employees will require new ‘soft’ skills. For example, they’ll need to connect with others, collaborate in different settings and liaise with different stakeholders. However, because the competencies required for this are behavioural, not technical, it is likely that many of your employees will already have them.

The challenge is therefore to assess your existing staff against the required competencies. You can then create targeted development interventions to address any competency gaps that are uncovered.

Best practice is to start with key areas of your business or specific departments. For example, you might identify that you need agile coaches or agile project managers to drive your digital transformation. You could then assess your existing trainers and project managers to see who could potentially help you with this. By doing this, you can establish a heat map of the digital skills – and the skills gaps – in your organisation. This will reveal the key digital learning needs that exist across your organisation.

By developing your people against the required digital competencies, you can move your organisation forwards – with its existing workforce. Knowing where your talent gaps are will enable you to prioritise the hiring of new staff.

  1. Change your recruitment process. The essence of good recruitment is to match the person to the competencies that are relevant in the job. When you’re looking to bring in new staff, make sure you recruit people who have a preference for digital working. This is particularly important when you are recruiting apprentices, graduates and other early-stage talent.


To achieve this, you may need to redesign your job roles to reflect the new behaviours that are required. Changing the people you recruit will in time change the culture of your organisation and it will facilitate new ways of working and new thinking.

  1. Initiate intelligent digital processes. New work practices, systems, processes and workflows should be developed which support digital working, agility and innovation. Any previous practices which encouraged counterproductive behaviours, such as silo-based working, should be scrapped or updated.


Aspects such as compensation and performance management may need to be redesigned, across the organisation, to recognise and reward the required competencies. Behaviours such as empowering others, collaborating, welcoming ideas and proactively making improvements should all be encouraged and supported.

  1. Promote cultural acceptance. Leadership teams should set a clear vision of how digital transformation will be undertaken – and how this will benefit the organisation. To facilitate this, your organisation’s culture should acknowledge the importance of digital skills – and digital working – at every job level. Aim to foster a culture in which digital working can thrive.


  1. Provide HR support. Ultimately, digital transformation will only succeed through employee development and recruitment. These aspects must be managed strategically. HR has a role not only in driving and managing these processes but in supporting the resultant changes throughout the business.


When your digital transformation programme is underpinned by the right competencies, you can instigate a more effective way of working, drive profitable growth and enhance engagement, empowerment and employee satisfaction.

Do you have the right digital leaders to drive digital change in HR? Tune in to cut-e’s free live webinar on 5th November.





David Barrett is Chief Commercial Officer at international talent measurement and assessment specialist cut-e, which is part of Aon’s Assessment Solutions. cut-e and Aon undertake 30 million assessments each year in 90 countries and 40 languages.