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Daniel Klemetz, principal category manager – engagement marketing at Vodafone discusses the skills that will be essential for procurement to have in the digitally transformed organisation
Google Trends is a pretty interesting 'buzzword analyser' in terms of showing the usage and evolution of words. Search for 'digital transformation' and you will see a dramatic increase over the last two years.
This is not particularly surprising. If you've attended any corporate strategy session lately, digital transformation is being touted as the next big thing. Surprisingly, there is much less buzz about what skillsets will be required from people and their managers in a digitally transformed organisation.
There is no doubt that digital transformation along with Artificial Intelligence (AI) are game changers, but many are worried about what it will mean for their jobs.
That concern is understandable. Some of the skillsets we currently value, such as the ability to analyse complex data and proficiency in Excel, will diminish in importance. Ultimately, there will be no need for them since AI will do those things much more efficiently.
This change should not be underestimated. Historically we have valued abilities, such as memorising large amount of data and logical thinking, very highly. It is even reflected in our language. Describing someone as “a machine” is usually the ultimate performance compliment.
Whatever the future brings, one thing is certain: Though some skills may certainly become superfluous, others will remain and grow in importance. Of these, two will become critical: empathy and creativity.
Although usually considered a trait, empathy needs to be thought of as a skill.
Businesses will continue to be run by people, and although the way we communicate and work might change, human interactions will never go away.
Indeed, they will become increasingly important. As they do, so will emotional intelligence. In an environment where less focus is needed on operational processes and data analysis, empathy and the ability to understand people and to be able to respond and cooperate with others will become a necessity.
To a certain extent, the importance of the human connection is already being recognised. Just look at any marketing campaign where there is a clear trend in aiming to build an emotional engagement with potential customers through feelings rather than facts.
The second critical skill, creativity, is an ability that can be cultivated. Building a corporate culture that encourages creativity and innovation has already proven to be successful: Gmail, Facebook 'likes', PlayStation and Post-it notes are but a few examples of products and services that came from employees in big corporations. Despite their size, all these businesses have all actively encouraged 'intrapreneurial' and cooperative thinking.
Realising that digital transformation will require finding the people with those skillsets and that isn't particularly hard. Even attracting those people is not that hard. Retaining them is.
This is why managers represent such a big risk. Studies show the number one reason people leave their jobs is because of their managers. Not preparing managers to deal with this shift could turn out to be disastrous since requirements on leadership will also change.
It will require moving away from the classic transactional leadership style, with its focus on supervision and performance and into transformational leadership, with its focus on vision and purpose. And, with the right type of leadership, people will choose to stay.
If equal efforts are not spent by a company on acclimatising managers to this change they will fail. However, by also focusing on managers, going digital will not only lead to things like automated processes and perfect data. It just might lead to something greater - humans becoming more human.
Daniel Klemetz is principal category manager – engagement marketing at Vodafone
This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.
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