By Be Kaler of digital recruitment specialists, Futureheads
According to a study by digital education company Hyper Island, addressing what digital talent will look like in the years to come, the biggest overall industry challenge is finding, keeping, and developing the right talent. In fact of the 500 business leaders asked, 20% listed technical and digital development as the top challenge.
This is hardly surprising as we continue to scale new heights in digital innovation and is precisely why we need to comprehensively review the core skills required of a digital professional.
One thing is for sure, these skills are expanding and showing no sign of slowing down, which is why those who can lead and deliver a digital experience effectively are in very high demand indeed. To further complicate matters anything from creative technology to UX/UI design skills outdate rapidly, which is all the more reason why those in the digital arena need to develop the ability for self-leadership and an appetite to un-learn and re-learn according to new environments and realities.
Flexibility and an inquisitive personality are becoming key traits.
In the meantime, we are facing a talent shortage which means that opportunities for those getting into digital have never been better. As a result competition for top talent is fierce and there is the negative trend of body shopping which does the industry no good whatsoever. Yet on the upside, unlike many more traditional sectors, those entering the digital workforce are effectively creating the future as they go. As we explore new territory, the rules are being re-written. There is no benchmark, we are re-defining this too. However rather than see this as a challenge, we should be embracing it as we stand on the cusp of exciting, limitless experiences.
Take Google Ventures, which is embedding design teams in portfolio companies for five-day “design sprints”. Surely this is a very clear recognition of the scope and value of digital design talent. As these design teams help startups gain greater clarity and direction in terms of their digital experience delivery, we can see a whole new era unfolding where those in digital take on an increasingly central role.
We will know we are making advances when we start seeing regular digital design appointments at board level, particularly in the retail and finance services sector. We have seen a couple of examples of this already, however once this kind of appointment becomes more mainstream we will know a positive shift is occurring.
Whilst academia is stepping up to offer more in-depth modules suited to commercialising digital, the time is right to take learning out of the classroom and into real work environments where experience and learning is gained via good communications and real life design.
From a boardroom perspective it is imperative to gain a strong understanding of the importance of good digital architecture being driven by a strong idea as well as the technical process required not to mention a clear awareness of the moving target which technology has become. Emphasis should be on creating value-driven and un-hierarchical work environments where digital talent is supported and retained.
This means setting clear expectations about performance by all parties involved and ensuring that teams work much more collaboratively from the outset and share the common goal of the business and user.
Whilst there may only be a few genuinely innovative ideas out there, the opportunities for new developments have never been as exciting. What we now need are more businesses that have the ability and confidence to execute on an innovative idea. For this we need to value all digital talent incubation in a dynamic way.