4 Characteristics of Talent in the Digital World


According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will not only bring developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics and other nano and bio technology (to name a few) but also the enablement of new workplace innovations that will cause organisations to have eve-smaller pool of core full-time employees, more and more distributed workforce and dependency on variable resources (incl. external consultants and contractors) for specific projects.

The above confirms what is also experienced already with the rise of millennial generation both as consumers as well as employees (what I already define as the "Digital Consumer", see blog for details) with different needs, demands, outlooks and aspirations. The millennial generation, coined also as "born-digital", expectations as consumers range from personalisation, always-on and Omni-channel experience while as employees push towards flexibility in time, place and portfolio of jobs during their careers and drive by aspiration & making a difference rather than performance & enumeration.

Therefore, organisation's success and journey towards digital excellence hinges not only on the ability to understand and engage with the changing consumer needs and behaviours but the ability to evolve its corporate culture and talent to embrace and support the digital transformation. (For more details on digital excellence, check my previous blog)

So what is the talent requirement in the digital world?

The skills and abilities of humans have been measured for years based on the two main quotients : Intelligence quotient (IQ) - Reasoning and problem-solving capacity & Emotional Quotient (EQ) or known better as Emotional Intelligence - emotional capacity. I believe in the digital world we need a Digital Quotient or Digital Intelligence (DQ) where the digital capacity of a person or even an organisation is measured, capturing a mixture of IQ and EQ characteristics to allow the digital consumers (internal & external) to succeed in the digital world as well as the ability for enterprises to ensure they have the skills and experiences to support their digital transformation.

So what will the DQ entails from characteristics:

1- Design Mindset: Creativity is one important characteristic however design mindset is not only about creativity but about the entire mindset of a person or organisation in ensuring anything designed, created or produced has the usability and experience integrated in it. Apple is not the most innovative company however it is by far the most advanced company in the world in relation to understanding the digital consumer mindset and it integrated this design mindset in everything they do.

2- Statistical Analysis & Data Mining: Problem-solving is now not only about reasoning but also in the capability of understanding and mining the data and being able to provide analysis that can drive decisions. This could also be called by some "complex problem solving". Organisations need to recruit people who get excited about data, insights and how it can drive change.

3- Critical Thinking & Cognitive Flexibility: As mentioned in my blog around the mind of the digital strategist, organisations need people that have the capability to understand change, embrace continuous change and of course trigger change by having novel, adaptive and critical thinking around status-quo. Continuous improvement should be engrained in their beliefs.

4- Digital Emotional & Cross-cultural Engagement: This is emotional intelligence applied in both the virtual and physical worlds equally. This is the homogenous collaboration & engagement capabilities with both internal and external digital consumers across borders, mediums and channels.

The above characteristics are not abundant in many people and this is the main risk most enterprises are facing. Therefore, any talents need also to be provided and offered with a Digital workplace and environment (which I will expand on in future blogs) that flourishes the DQ of these talents by offering flexibility for their physical and mental needs, championing critic of status-quo and tools to support digital emotions conveyance. Such a digital workplace and environment need to be built from scratch with a design mindset and culture!

Finally, its great to identify all of the above and create the right digital environment, however it is of no use if the new generation does not have the basis of such characteristics in their development. Organisations and society need to target young pupils at school and enrich them digital skills & learning to develop their DQ characteristics. Pupils should be taught by digital confident and supportive teachers.

In the next 100 days,

1- Ensure you integrate DQ assessment into your recruitment process.

2- Identify a small group of talent you believe has DQ characteristics and work with them in piloting a change in the workplace environment that could support their flexibility, critical thinking and digital emotional engagement.

3- If your organisation work with universities or schools, make them aware of the DQ and support a pilot for new digital oriented curriculum. If not, start such an engagement, it will be rewarding for all parties.

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