How Tech-fluent Talent is Accelerating Change at Private Companies

They are best positioned to help firms increase efficiencies, comprehend new market opportunities, and drive faster growth

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By Jason Downing


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Companies around the world are finding that the exponential growth of technology requires a new skill for their employees: digital fluency.

Private companies are no exception. From teams that oversee robotic processes, to talent managers who hire through video assessments, digital-fluent workers increasingly are the ones who are best positioned to help their companies increase efficiencies, comprehend new market opportunities, and drive faster growth.

Filling the Gaps

We've heard a lot about the skills shortages that threaten to stifle some of this progress. For instance, in a survey of CIOs about the technical skills that will be toughest to fill through 2020, analytics and data science sit at the top of the list.

Private companies are poised to place a heightened focus on talent due to their size. This allows them to take a people-centric approach in guiding them through today's disruption. This is only one of the countless bright spots as tech-fluent talent drives innovation in the private sphere.

As noted in a recent global report highlighting private company issues and opportunities, a number of areas requiring tech fluency serve as platforms for growth. One way digitally-fluent workers are making this happen is by using technology to help increase efficiencies. For example, private companies are using analytics capabilities such as text recognition to sort through financial records and other data. This can replace manual reviews and free up workers for higher-level tasks.

Workers with expertise in connected devices can also help their companies unlock new market opportunities. A separate area of focus in the global report was the rise of IoT sensors in settings that range from factories to farms. Workers who can apply the data captured from these devices can help their companies track how customers are using certain products and also discover potential new functions or markets.

Growth Acceleration

Growth is undoubtedly at the top of every private company's agenda, and tech-fluent workers can help their organizations accelerate achievement of this goal. Using artificial intelligence (AI) tools, companies can predict buyer behavior under certain circumstances. For example, workers who are proficient in these systems can integrate them into planning that can help their companies decide which seasonal items might sell based on data such as customer segmentation and the weather. To offer further recognition of the potential of AI, 72 percent of organizations in the CIO survey that are considered "digital vanguards" put AI at the top of their wish list.

Company leaders also recognize the importance of ensuring their people possess digital proficiency. Virtually all respondents (96 per cent) consider it to be their role to make their organizations more tech-fluent. The report notes the importance of fluency initiatives for both customer-facing teams and back-office functions. While looking at the ideal dimensions of tech fluency programs, these are some of the areas that could be included:

  • Core systems supporting the IT environment;
  • Systems that enable major business functions such as finance, customer service, and cybersecurity; and
  • The company's business model, including supporting business strategy and revenue generation.

Regardless of the approach or area of focus, tech fluency is a critically important skill starting from new hires all the way up to the C-suite. The enthusiastic adoption of new technologies among private companies shows the future is bright – not solely because of the technology that is being adopted, but also because of the talent that is driving its implementation.

Jason Downing

Vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and the US Deloitte Private leader

Jason Downing is a Vice Chairman of Deloitte LLP and the US Deloitte Private leader, where he oversees the strategic direction of Deloitte’s portfolio of services to private company and mid-market clients. He most recently served as managing partner of Deloitte LLP in the North Texas marketplace and remains active with several North Texas clients and community leadership roles. Jason holds a BBA in Accounting from Stephen F. Austin State University and is a Chairman of the Board for United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

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