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Digital Transformation of You: The Skills You Need to Compete (Thinks Out Loud Episode 296)

Digital Transformation Of You: The Skills You Need To Compete (Thinks Out Loud Episode 296)

Headlines and Show Notes

Digital transformation is, at its core, about business transformation. And business transformation, at its core, is about people. Research shows that many people need to learn new skills and up-skill existing ones as their companies evolve. So, what are the skills you need to compete as your company undergoes its digital transformation? What do you need to know to keep yourself relevant in a rapidly changing environment? In short, how do you deliver the digital transformation of you?

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at the digital transformation of you and the skills you need to compete in the current marketplace.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — Digital Transformation of You: The Skills You Need to Compete (Thinks Out Loud Episode 296)

Thinks Out Loud is sponsored by SoloSegment: SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit SoloSegment.com.

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Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 20m 55s

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Digital Transformation of You: The Skills You Need to Compete — Transcript

Well, hello again, everyone. And welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 296 of the big show. We’re coming up on a milestone folks. We’re coming up on our 300th episode. Thank you so much for tuning in today and for the other 200 new five episodes that came before this one. I really, I just really appreciate that. That’s so great. I think we’ve got a really cool show for you this week.

I think there’s a really interesting topic that we need to discuss given everything that’s going on right now. So one of my favorite quotes is from William Gibson. In 295 prior episodes, I probably said this in something approaching 290 of those episodes. But William Gibson has a quote that says “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” And I was particularly reminded of that this week, because there was an article in The New York Times that talked about how businesses are beginning to put more emphasis on retraining workers. That what has happened because of COVID-19, what has happened because of the coronavirus, is that companies are beginning to recognize that they’re having to transition much faster than they thought to digital.

We’ve talked about how we’ve seen two years of digital transformation in two months. We’ve talked about how your customers and your employees, how your companies live online now and how that is changing the world in which we live. And many companies have come to recognize that they do not have the skills that they need in-house. They have particular needs in particular areas and their teams may not have those skills that are necessary to actually be effective right now.

And the key paragraph in this article from my perspective says the middle class jobs. This is a quote from The New York Times, “Middle class jobs in today’s economy often require some digital skills, but are not considered tech jobs. Data scientists at LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, recently mined millions of job listings to identify 10 occupations most in demand in recent years and likely to remain so. The list included project managers, sales representatives, customer service specialists, and graphic designers, non-tech jobs that have been transformed by technology.” There is no job today that is not a tech job. It doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter what you do. It’s all technology dependent to some degree or other.

And I’ve sort of lived this firsthand. My entire career has been built around digital transformation of some kind or another. You may know this, I’ve talked about this on some shows, that I started my career in the music industry. I worked in recording studios, which was a very technical job. I mean, I was a recording engineer and a record producer. I did hands on stuff with tape decks and recording consoles and things like that. And we were moving from analog, from recording on tape to digital, to recording on computers and recording on a digital tape and the like And so it was very much this transition from analog to digital, from the real world to the computerized world.

And when I changed careers into what is now the web and digital and things like that, I moved into financial services where at the time — this is the mid nineties during the dot-com boom — our customers were shifting from offline to online. They were shifting from the real world to the digital world, to the computer world.

And then I moved to travel. And again, that was just as customers were starting to book online. So again, it was this thing of moving from offline to online or from the real world to the digital world.

I’ve now been working with companies for the better part of 25 years of helping them navigate that change of analog to digital, from offline to online, from the real world to the digital world. That is what digital transformation often is. And as I talked about last week, as I talked about for the last couple of weeks, digital transformation is really business transformation. It requires new skills. It will always require new skills.

I’d mentioned on the show a couple of weeks back that there’s never a new normal in digital. Digital requires constant change.
The only normal in digital ever is the fact that there is change, that there will always be change. And as tech and as digital increasingly affects every job it requires that you continually update your skills. You will continually grow such that you can continue to do your job in whatever form it becomes.

Now that does not require you to become a programmer. It’s become very in vogue these days to say that everyone should learn how to program, should learn how to code. I don’t know that that’s true. I think it’s not going to hurt you to learn how to program. I don’t want anyone to hear this and say, great. “I should never learn programming. There’s no need for it.” I don’t mean that at all. I just mean that not knowing how to program doesn’t necessarily make you unemployable, not knowing how to code doesn’t make you unemployable. It might help you some, and it might help you because what is required is that you not be afraid of programmers. What is required is that you be comfortable with computers and with technology across the board.

Technology increasingly automates things that were once upon a time technical. We’re even seeing some coding become automated. There’s an interesting study that I saw on Markle, and I will will point to this in the show notes, but the McKinsey Global Institute who estimates that, and this is a quote, “…60% of jobs could have nearly a third of their work activity, automated with the application of already existing technology, dramatically changing the work experience of most occupations.”

I’ve mentioned before that AI won’t take your job, but smart people who use AI will. And this is what I’m talking about. You know, AI’s might only take over a third of your job or a third of the 60% of jobs that are out there. But if a third of your work goes away, there may be less demand for the things you do. And if you can’t adapt to new things, if you can’t learn how to provide extra value there, then you specifically might be in some trouble there.

So it’s a thing you want to be really conscious of. And automation is very much a trend that we see a lot of, and we’re going to see a ton of. The sponsor of the show, SoloSegment, one of their core benefits — and I’m not doing this as a plug for them; I’m doing this as an object lesson — one of their core focuses is how you use automation to do work that marketers can’t get to. Because they recognize if you get a report that tells you what to do, but you don’t do it, the report provided no value. But if, instead of providing a report, you simply automate the output of the report so that the action that the marketer would have taken when they got the report happens automatically, that makes the marketer more effective and frees them up to provide greater value to their organization. So that’s a win-win, right? That’s a benefit all the way around.

And so it becomes important that you’re able to work with automated systems and with the people who put them together. It’s not a question of whether or not you can code. It’s a question of whether or not you can carry on a conversation with somebody who does. And if you’re somebody who does code, it’s a question of, can you carry on a conversation with someone who doesn’t, it’s a two-way street. Collaboration and communication are two of the core skills that become increasingly critical. And I’m going to tell you about a bunch of those skills in just a moment.

But the takeaway here is that if you’re an individual thinking about your own career, you have to keep growing. You need to have a balance of both the hard skills or technical skills and the softer people skills necessary to allow you to work effectively in the workplace.

You know, as I just talked about machines are gonna take over some of the technical stuff over time. So your technical skills require continual updating changes. Constant. There is never a new normal, but your ability to understand and evaluate the answers that those machines give you — whatever form machines take — to communicate those answers with others, to persuade and negotiate, and to make good decisions. You also need to continually improve.

Part of Digital Transformation: All Jobs Are Technical Jobs Now

If we look at the jobs that, that LinkedIn, the study that The New York Times article referenced, these are the jobs LinkedIn expects people to see a lot of, a lot of growth in:

  • Software developer. Sure. Super technical
  • IT administrator, super technical
  • Digital marketing specialist, technical
  • IT support and help desk, technical
  • Data analyst, maybe
  • Financial analysts, less so
  • Graphic designer, not so much
  • Customer service specialists, not so much
  • Project manager
  • Sales representative

Right?

What Are the Skills You Need to Compete?

Some of these jobs aren’t technical, but you have to be able to be technical to some degree and also have good soft skills. I did a quick look on Indeed and I found a bunch of sales rep jobs. And the skills that came up again and again and again, were:

  • Communication skills where you have to be able to write and speak and present
  • Time management and organizational skills — especially using time-tracking tools and specific software that allows you to manage time and communicate the use of your time to the organization like CRMs
  • Microsoft Office, go figure is a must; You know, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Teams. Or if you prefer, Google Docs, you know, the equivalent in those areas
  • Strong computer skills and experience with CRM’s like I just mentioned
  • Specific business intelligence applications
  • And this is an exact quote from one, but I saw things like this again and again, “firm quantitative skills.” You have to be numerate. You know, if you’re looking at a sales report, can we see what the numbers are telling us?

You Need a Combination of Technical Skills and Soft Skills

So those give you an example of how a job, a sales rep that you wouldn’t think of as being particularly technical, requires both this balance of soft skills and this balance of technical skills.

So what skills are universal? You know, what skills do you need? Well, there’s a bunch. There’s probably a 10 or 11 you really want to think about:

  • In my experience, the most important one or the most important two, maybe are critical thinking and judgment/decision-making. You know, your ability, your ability to evaluate information and make good decisions around that and understand why that’s a good decision or why it’s a poor decision. It will probably set you up to be incredibly successful, always.
  • Your ability to collaborate with others and teamwork, super important.
  • Having some degree of emotional intelligence so you understand where other people are coming from.
  • The ability to negotiate. The ability to resolve conflicts, you know, your conflict resolution skills, super important.
  • Time management, unbelievably important
  • Creativity. And I know a lot of people think that they’re not creative, but I mean the ability to generate ideas and then use your critical thinking skills or your decision making skills or your judgment skills to look back and evaluate and say, which are the ones that are most useful.
  • If you’re going to manage people, obviously your ability in people management, your actual skills as a leader and as a manager are very, very important.
  • Obviously, as we’ve talked about, specific technical skills, like I mentioned MS Office or Office Suite products like Google Docs, things like knowing how to use a specific BI/business intelligence tool or a specific CRM, knowing how to use specific tools like Photoshop or WordPress are very important depending on the specific roles that you want.
  • And then the last one is the other most important one. And of critical thinking is the top of the list, this one is equally important here at the end of the list, and that is adaptability. And your ability to keep learning, because as we talked about, this kind of change is constant. This isn’t a one-off. You’re going to continually need to adapt and continue to learn.

So if you’re an individual, that’s what you need to focus on.

How Employers Should Think About Developing Skills Needed to Compete in Your Employees

Now, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking about, “Okay, great. But what about my company?” Well, if you want to retain employees, teach them, help them grow, help them develop for the longer term. TechCrunch has a whole series they’re doing right now on the future of work. And I of course will link to this in the show notes, but they’re laying out a series of things that companies must do for trends that companies must do. And that is:

  • Providing and supporting new work environments
  • providing an environment of lifelong learning
  • Helping their employees redefine their resumes
  • And of course, focusing on worker wellbeing.

That’s what’s important to your employees right now. And I’m a strong believer in this. There’s some evidence that supports this, there’s a fair bit of evidence that supports this, that the best thing that you can do for your customers as a company is take care of your employees. Because if you take care of your employees — if they feel confident and secure and protected — they will do a better job taking care of your customers. And that’s how your company will grow.

Now I can’t take credit for the next line because I heard it probably 25 years ago. But I’ve had executives say to me from time to time, “what if I train these people? And then they leave?” And the best response I’ve ever heard to this question is, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?” Right? What’s going to happen to your business then?

You need to create an environment where your employees can grow and can learn so that they can do well in your business, help your customers, and help your business grow.

So for you as an individual, I come back to the idea that the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. And unfortunately it is incumbent upon you, if your company does not provide the right resources for you to figure out how to improve these skills for yourself, for you to use the resources that are in the show notes and the resources that people like Microsoft and Google and folks like that are providing so you can grow your skills on your own.

And if you’re thinking as a manager or as a business owner right now, you should be thinking about how do I create an environment where my team can grow, where my employees can grow so that they can do a better job, feel more secure, and take better care of my customers. Because all of those will play together to help your company grow.

And as we all keep learning and growing, as your company continues to grow and learn, as you as an individual continue to grow and learn, that’s how we’re going to get out of this situation. By being smarter, by improving our skills, by improving the support and the service and the value that we provide to our customers, and helping them have a better, more productive life.

All of us, whether you’re an employee or you’re a manager or you’re a business owner, or you’re a customer, we’re all in this together. And the way we will get out of this is if we all do our best to continually improve and continually get smarter. Those are the skills that are going to help you compete. And that’s the kind of digital transformation we all need to live with.

Episode Conclusion and Credits

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes by heading to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 296.

While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud, deliver it to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, wherever fine podcasts are found. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those.

I would also very much appreciate it while you’re there if you could provide us a positive rating or review. It helps new listeners find us. It helps them understand what the show is all about, and it makes a huge difference to the podcast overall.

You can also find things out loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that’s podcast@timpeter.com.

I’d also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by solo segment. Solo segment helps large enterprise B2B companies convert more customers with easy to deploy software as a service that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of your visitors and improve the efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more by going to SoloSegment.com. Again, that’s SoloSegment.com

With that, I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I know I say it week after week after week, but I very much appreciate the fact that you listen. I wouldn’t do the show if you didn’t. So, thanks so much for that. This is a lot of fun for me, and I really enjoy getting a chance to speak with you each week.

So until then, I hope you have a great week, a great weekend ahead. And I’m looking forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then please be well, be safe and as ever, take care everybody.

Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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