In the past five years, digital transformation success stories have been emerging across industries, and every company is now eager to create one of their own. Gripped by the idea of “creating a compelling consumer experience with the latest technology”, every company wants to hire ‘digital’ talent with the aim of revolutionising their business. Some companies have a clearly defined road map for this, some just want a ‘whiz kid’ and some are sitting back waiting to learn from the lessons of others.
Technology driving change industry-wide
This corporate demand is creating a real shortage of digital and technology talent across South East Asia, China and Hong Kong. Shenzhen is shaping itself to become the regional digitech centre. The Singapore Government has a five-year Infocomm Media Sector (ICM) Industry Transformation Map which include investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and guiding companies across all sectors to adopt digital technology effectively. Organisations in Hong Kong are grappling with digitalising as the government devices effective strategies. Undergoing digital change is especially challenging for companies that either were not born digital or have “legacy” business services or products that are experiencing disruption or urgently require rejuvenation.
From traditional media to international rights holders to agencies, SRi regularly advises clients on their digital talent recruitment process. Our first question is always, “What do you need?” The response is invariably “someone who will revolutionise my business”. But how? So, the first step really should be conducting a business review to identify root problems, challenges and opportunities before trying to find operational solutions. And the solutions are varied. Sometimes a complete digital transformation may not be possible within your current organisation structure. This could lead to a restructure or the setting up of a separate entity, particularly if you are attempting to run legacy and digitally-driven businesses together. For example, some media organisations are restructuring to be more content-focused and platform-agnostic while others seek to upskill current talent.
The bottom line is, the digital spectrum is broad. Data and analytics, e-commerce, digital marketing, social media, streaming, technology, customer experience, cloud, Internet of Things; resources are limited and not everything is applicable. Are you seeking to utilise digital technology, products and services to enhance or disrupt? It’s no wonder many businesses engage specialist consulting services for advice in this area.
When you get to the point of knowing what you need and where you are going – what next?
Creating a Compelling Story
Digital natives want to work for a company where they understand how their experience and skills can bring value to the table. They feel motivated and personally invested in the company’s future. “Good for the company” is not purpose. Those seeking to create a compelling corporate vision may wish to look to the likes of Tesla, Airbnb and Alibaba, whose story is not about being the most profitable – it is about changing the industry or world. In addition, expectations need to be managed. Many candidates love the challenge of true transformation, but there are some who will get frustrated if they do not see ‘digital first’ in every corner of the company. It will work out better in the long run if employers are candid about where they are on their journey.
Slow, drawn-out search and interview processes need to be challenged. The digital world moves fast so it is important to maintain responsiveness and momentum in the hiring process. Standardised hiring procedures also often leave little room for consideration of individual profiles that may enhance team dynamics. Interestingly, SRi has noticed an increasing favouring of adaptable individuals with curiosity and true problem-solving skills over advanced technical competencies and industry knowledge in digital-savvy companies. But such softer skills frequently get overlooked in internal one-size-fits-all processes.
As content, technology and distribution industries collide, dynamic and multidisciplinary teams have been proven to be better equipped to respond. But hiring managers often hire in their own image, resulting in homogeneous teams. To mitigate this, relevant people in the business – even if they may not be directly related to the hire – should be invited to weigh in during the interview process. If alternative opinion is not available within the company, organisations can and do turn to search firms. Besides being a sounding board for its clients, a forward-thinking search firm also helps send out the right message to the market that they are serious about securing the best talent for the specified role. Non-digital organisations also benefit from the firm’s industry and sector expertise, further qualifying candidates for their technical and cultural fit.
If an organisation truly wants to make a statement about its commitment to driving innovation and change, consider making a statement hire. Candidates often follow true leaders and innovators in their sectors, so this may boost the organisation’s appeal to digital and technology talents.
Digital transformation may be a buzz statement, but it is one that is on the lips of every business we touch. This journey and indeed the depth of transformation is different for every client we meet, but one thing is constant – you need talent to deliver the change; don’t leave it to chance.
About the Author
Helen Soulsby is the Managing Partner, APAC for SRi, an international management consultancy and executive search company specialising in the sports, media and entertainment market. Leading teams throughout the region, Helen’s role is to drive performance and growth in the Asia business through partnering with clients to deliver executive search assignments, as well as advising executive board structures on how to best execute overall business strategies.
Contact Helen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +65 9061 1411