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The Current State of Digital Transformation

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Paulo Guimarães

CCC Digital Hub - 08/20

Training in the field of digital transformation has endured significant changes and unpredictability this year. Such changes demand new solutions, bold ideas, and possibly, reform.

That’s why we organized a think tank session amongst CCC Digital Expert Panel members on the current situation. We’ve called this initiative the CCC Digital Hub.

We couldn’t wait to see what the CCC Digital Expert Panel had to say about how these unusual times affected them and their scope of the market. A particular emphasis was put on the challenges and opportunities to training providers and learners that have arisen from this context. We’re happy to report we couldn’t have hoped for more insightful outcomes.

You’ll find some of the main points of discussion as well as some of the core ideas brought up during the CCC Digital Hub below.

COVID-19’s Impact On Businesses

The pandemic had a very significant impact on the volume of business and on the way it’s being conducted. The way this affected professionals throughout the industry, however, varies. Some have gone out of business while others had business models better suited to the current situation and are busier than ever.

This may be the case of what economists call a K-shaped recovery. Retail establishments are obvious examples of businesses to come out unfavorably from the current situation. This has led many to feel the need to upskill and depart from entirely relying on brick and mortar. On the other hand of the “K”, there are training businesses that already had a substantial virtual presence prior to the pandemic. These have greatly benefited from being one step ahead. One of the most obvious consequences of the current pandemic has been the increased popularity of online courses as a replacement for physical training options. Indeed, the general perception in the CCC Digital Hub is that the majority of L&D departments are now expecting to be offered options for online upskilling rather than traditional deliveries. Furthermore, there has been a significant increase in the number of individual learners signing up for training. This has clearly been propelled by a rise in interest in online learning platforms.

The Shift From Physical Training To Virtual Delivery

Whether virtual delivery is provided or not is no longer a matter of choice for most. To a large extent, training providers offer to deliver virtual training or stop training altogether for now. Some trainers have found this process of transition a challenge while others did it seamlessly.

It has become increasingly evident that we’re moving toward a hybrid world. One where the option to be in a physical room exists but is not a prerequisite. A complete move to virtual delivery doesn’t appear to be advisable. There still are, after all, quite a few learners that are not comfortable with virtual learning options. Impressively, there are even some cases of customers willing to delay their classroom-based course to the second semester of 2021. That is perfectly understandable – physical classroom training has its clear advantages. As one member of the CCC Digital Expert Panel comically observes: “you wouldn’t want your physiotherapist to only have virtual experience”.

In general, the trend perceived by the CCC Digital Hub has been the following:

  • Technical training hasn’t needed many to go back to classrooms;
  • People-skill-based training is progressively seeing a return to classrooms.

Having said this, the vast majority of learners, however, seem to have embraced virtual deliveries. The CCC Digital Expert Panel members agree that they predominantly receive positive feedback on virtual deliveries. Sure, there are occasional technical issues and there still is much room for improvement on virtual etiquette. But these are not insurmountable obstacles. All it takes is for time to be dedicated to reflecting on the adequate infrastructure and investment needed.

The pandemic has turned out to be an opportunity to reflect on how to provide as engaging of an experience as possible. It’s time for training providers themselves to live by the motto that “digital transformation is a journey, not a destination”.

Will There Be Such a Thing as a Return to Normality?

Heraclitus once famously proclaimed that the only constant in life is change. No CCC Digital Expert Panel member seems to think that there will be a return to “normality” as we used to know it.

New ways of conducting physical training will be found, yes. But as all previous large transformations in history have taught us, things never go back to how they were. Going back to the office on a daily basis is not going to happen any time soon. It’s becoming apparent that offices will become key for social interaction but not as much for actual work.

Many organizations still hope to go back to the way things were but this is becoming the exception, not the rule. The cultural acceptance of digital meetings is accelerating and this will lead, amongst other things, to the evolution of blended learning deliveries. One other potential positive outcome of this is that training is being forced to progressively emphasize on delivering value. Getting a certification for certification’s sake may very well become a thing of the past.

Emphasizing the Urgency of Digital Transformations

It often happens that organizations have undertaken digital adoption thinking it is digital transformation. To digitally transform goes far beyond one or two technical aspects of one’s work. The pandemic has revealed to be an acute setting for the industry to change. All organizations will have to address the urgency of digital transformation. The question now is whether it will be done actively or reactively.

There’s no doubt that there is a broad interest in driving digital transformation. Most professionals and organizations, however, don’t refer to it as such. They look at specific issues they need to address and not at the journey per se. They mostly talk about the change they want to impart in their business or how they want to attract customers. They’re all in the process of digital transformation, they just don’t know it.

The Digital Skills Gap

A digital skills gap is likely to exist, indeed. It just might not be as huge and dramatic as others claim it to be. There are certain roles that definitely are lacking skillful professionals. This is particularly clear with Big Data Analysts and Cybersecurity experts for instance. As we uncovered last year, the ability to gain skills is more important than already having the right skills.

Learners don’t specifically say they have a skills gap, of course. They simply want to carry on improving their skillset. That’s why we should expect the skills gap to be narrowed.

What the focus should be, the CCC Digital Expert Panel concurs, is on establishing the right foundation. This enables practitioners to learn new capabilities as they emerge. Continuous learning can only take place when there’s a solid foundation to help identify potential gaps. An awareness of what is worthy of prioritization is essential.

The industry is changing so quickly that only professionals with this predisposition thrive.

Further Challenges

How to:

  • Provide the possibility for learners to return to classrooms
  • Ensure everyone is content in the hybrid delivery model
  • Plan while managing people’s wish to return to offices
  • Improve time management

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