Digital advances are never-ending. Here’s how to keep up.
This is what you need to do to keep up with today's digital progress.
Tony Saldanha is a Fortune 25 executive in the Global Business Services (GBS) and Information Technology area. During a 27-year career at Procter & Gamble, Saldanha ran IT and GBS in every region of the world, helping create a multi-billion dollar best-in-class operation. He currently provides advice to boards and CEOs in Fortune 500 companies on digital transformation, especially on internal business operations.
TONY SALDANHA: We all know it's almost impossible to keep up with the incredible amount of change that's happening in the digital world. I want to share a quick illustration. About four years ago when I started down this journey of trying to digitally transform P&G's multibillion-dollar global business services operation I went out and talked to a hundred different organization startups. And in that context I talked to a group of guys that were actually working on blockchain—this was about four years ago—and I asked them a question: How would you apply blockchain to Procter & Gamble? And they said 'Well, we're not quite sure. We think this is something that's more applicable to bitcoin at this point in time.' And so I kind of filed that away in my memory as interesting but not ready.
I went back three months ago and they had dozens of examples, all the way from how you use blockchain for coupons to advertising to accounting and all within the space of three months. So here's the issue: If I as a technology person find it difficult to stay abreast of this incredible change that's happening how does the average person who is a professional in accounting or finance or marketing, how do they keep up with the changes in technology? And that's where we came up with this discipline idea for staying current. Staying current isn't about becoming a technology programmer. Staying current is about the disciplined pursued of understanding how technology could change whatever it is that you are doing today. So, for instance, if you're a teacher, understanding where digital technology could change the dissemination of information, the organization of classrooms, the ability to coordinate across different geographies—that's how technology, digital technology, can change training. And that's really all you need to know. You don't have to become an artificial intelligence programmer.
This is one of those reasons why I love the recent tendancy of companies to recognize that digital literacy and retraining of their workforce is such an important thing. We read a month ago that Amazon's going to set aside $700 million to retrain 100,000 employees. When I read that I almost fell off my chair because arguably Amazon is one company that has the most digital skills and they were thinking of retraining their employees. That is why this is such an important thing. It doesn't matter if you are the most tech-savvy company in the world today. The question is: How do you keep up? And so you have leading companies including Amazon -- AT&T did the same thing a few years ago where they set aside a billion dollars to retrain their workforce. Loblaws, the Canadian retailer, has set aside a quarter of a million dollars to train their workforce. It's absolutely important to follow a very disciplined approach to retraining your employees.
- Amazon has set aside $700 million to retrain 100,000 of its employees. That's an incredible thing—a company that is already at the forefront of tech is helping its employees catch up. What does that mean for the rest of us?
- Developing digital literacy in your organization's workforce is of utmost importance. How will companies stay ahead of the competition if they don't understand how emerging technologies, like blockchain, can be implemented?
- "Stay current" should become an organizational motto; it's about the disciplined pursued of understanding how technology can change the work you're doing today.
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