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Digital natives wanted – but what about the Digitally Overlooked?

Earlier this year Capgemini Consulting announced that it was looking to recruit 1,000 consultants to support its focus on the growing digitisation of business. I have to say, I was surprised it took Capgemini so long to realise the business opportunity for them with digital consulting and it shines a light on what we have all been talking about, the digital skills gap that many organisations are now facing.

You just have to see the wood through all those trees

As information moves towards the heart of the business, different and more analytical skills sets will be required; every employee will need to have a ‘single view’ of information, as well as understand how that information is being used at any one time across the organisation in order to do their job effectively. As we know, information is only commercially as good as the context that sits around it. But to make the most of this information do you need to go out and hire a digital native today? Is this new generation the only one that can grasp such concepts? The reality is that you already have the right people within your organisation, and just as importantly, you can actually teach the old dogs new tricks.

Technology, while it has brought about shifts in the business landscape, has also helped to remove a lot of the analytical and statistical burden that this influx of data has created. It also means that this information can be set free within an organisation, no longer siloed off in customer service or marketing.

If technology can be the solution, as well as the cause, why do so many organisations feel unprepared and ready to hire in consultants to help them embrace these new channels.  I believe that what we need to harness is the Digitally Overlooked.  You need a person that understands the value of digital technology and uses it to seek out opportunities for themselves, their peers and their organisation. We have been calling out for some time for businesses to commit to major investments in appropriate skills across every department. Why? Because analysing, mobilising and interpreting data, in real-time, presents significant challenges to existing skill sets, but not insurmountable ones.

In times gone by, getting to know your customer used to be about looking at what had happened, but now it is about looking at what is happening. The rules have dramatically changed. Brands must reinvent themselves to keep up with new customer behaviour by drawing on multiple online environments to see the real picture of where their customers are right now and to ascertain their intentions and motivations.

This means:

1)      Understanding what is being said about you, where and when it is being said, and by whom

2)      Getting to know your customer, what they want and how they prefer to be engaged with (whether that is still via traditional marketing methods or through newer technologies)

3)      Reaching your audience with the right method of engagement and through the right channels

4)      Matching your overall brand strategy and taking social media out of its silo

So do you need a ‘digital native’ to do this for you? I argue no, your marketers, often have these skills, or are willing to learn them, and technology can make this transition easier. What digital means for your business is different to what it means for your closest competitor, which is why your employees are the best people to navigate you through the social media labyrinth.

Only those organisations that truly embrace the challenge of this new technology-enabled environment are likely to reap the most from emerging opportunities. We won’t do it by just filling our skills gaps with new employees or consultants; now is the time to invest in the development of those employees that know your brand inside out. Those that don’t are unlikely to survive the scrutiny and communicating power of the 21st Century customer.