10 Absolute Truths About Talent Management in Digital Business

The universal truths about talent management from a decade’s worth of research.

Imagine your business as a boat sailing to Bora Bora.

Bora Bora is the end goal for the voyage, just as digital business is the end goal for your business. But before you can even consider launching the ship, it’s essential to ensure you have a well-made boat that is the right type for your trip.

In business, the boat is the organizational structure, systems, processes and people, and it is vital that the business is designed to support digital business. A large part of the voyage’s success will be dependent on the people, an essential part of the business transformation. It may seem a little abstract, but this is the image that a CEO of a large non-profit used to kick-start and lead the IT transformation.

A large part of the voyage’s success will be dependent on the people, an essential part of the business transformation.

“Building and sustaining a successful digital business requires transformational change in leadership, mindset, structure and workforce capabilities,” says Lily Mok, research vice president at Gartner. “Business executives, CIOs and HR leaders must work together to renew their organizational strategies and talent management practices for acquiring and cultivating requisite talent, skills and competencies to make the shift.”

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Gartner has uncovered ten truths from more than a decade of research to assist companies in designing and implementing effective talent management programs.

Truth No. 1

A compelling vision and a clearly defined digital business strategy should drive every decision made about the organization and its people.

Action Items: The key is to think long-term. Create a digital business vision that shows how digital will change the business, and review challenges created by the digital disruption. Finally, review the IT organization’s current skill sets and how to prepare the department for the digital business world.

Truth No. 2

Digital mindset and competencies, not technical skills, drive the digital edge in performance.

Action Items: Focus on the people, not on the technology. Decide on the important core competencies for employees such as accountability, business acumen, innovation, risk-taking and others, and ensure those remain a focus in the talent process from recruitment to performance assessment.

Truth No. 3

Digital business demands a shift from command-and-control leadership to enable-and-collaborate leadership.

Action Items: Consider a shift to a collaborative leadership model versus a traditional top-down approach and review company culture to see what changes are necessary to adopt new ideas about leadership.

Truth No. 4

Agility is the principal design element for organizing and mobilizing people for digital business.

Action items: Identify what role IT will play in the new digital business, and organize around what needs to be optimized. Be aware of how these changes and other organizational redesigns will affect the business.

Truth No. 5

Most organizations don’t have enough versatilists to transform to a digital business.

Action Items: Determine what mix of specialists, versatilists and/or generalists are needed to transform the business, review internal skill sets to gain a clear understanding of talent gaps and strengths and identify versatilists who can be groomed and grown. Externally, hire candidates who can work across disciplines.

Truth No. 6

A diverse workforce generates diverse ideas and innovative solutions.

Action Items: Make diversity a business strategy and identify barriers to inclusion. Ensure that technologies (i.e., workplace analytics) advance workplace parity.

Truth No. 7

Every digital business must have a digital workplace to drive employee engagement and effectiveness.

Action Items: Identify digital tools that offer better strategic responses to workplace changes.

Truth No. 8

An HR and IT partnership is critical to bring talent and business intelligence together to create an edge in digital business.

Action Items: Work with HR to establish a process that ensures hired talent aligns with the digital business demand. Assist in investigating, evaluating, and investing in workforce analytics capabilities.

Truth No. 9

A talent ecosystem must embrace “social” to cultivate digital expertise.

Action Items: Assess how the enterprise uses and should use social media as a means of talent sourcing, engagement, development and performance improvement. Don’t be afraid to explore nontraditional recruiting options like acquiring talent from digital startups, hackathons, or contests. The goal is to find talent that aligns with the company’s digital goals.

Truth No. 10

Teams must be recognized and rewarded based on teamwork and value contribution to the digital business.

Action Items: Assess how current performance reviews need to adjust to account for new dynamic teams and review the current culture readiness for tools that support frequent performance feedback, personalized development and visibility of individual and team accomplishments.

Gartner clients can read more in the full research report “Ten Absolute Truths About Talent Management in Digital Business by Lily Mok, et al. 

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