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Academy Xi Blog

Digital Maturity is the benchmark

By Academy Xi

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Five digital experts give their take on how to reach organisational digital maturity.

Key themes include:

  • building capability
  • digital leadership
  • adjacent skill sets
  • digital roadmap
  • continuous learning
  • mentoring
  • knowledge sharing
  • communication
  • storytelling

Although digital transformation remains a top strategic priority for almost every organisation, ‘Digital Maturity’ is now more commonly used as a benchmark for success. 

Digital transformation is all about the doing (implementation, adoption, rewiring), digital maturity is the being. The process versus the state. A digitally mature business is one that has learned how to respond appropriately to the emerging competitive environment through collaboration, thoughtful training initiatives, scaled innovation and revamping their approach to workforce transformation. It isn’t housed in a single department but rather is a mindset owned by all staff and sits across the entire business.

Matt Tsourdalakis – Lead UX Designer, NAB

Matt is a versatile UX/Product Design Consultant and team leader with human-centred design at his core. You can watch Matt in the “How to Lead a Design Team” webinar. He is also a ‘Designer In Residence’ at Academy Xi.

What are the top three things you are looking for when hiring digital talent?

First, flexibility and adaptability. Digital is always changing — just look at how it’s changed over the past year and a bit through COVID-19. I look for talent who embrace change and relish the opportunity to try new things. 

Second, skills on the tools. There are plenty of new tools coming to market. I look for talent who always have their ear to the ground when it comes to new tools, features and methods to get work done more efficiently and effectively. 

Third, high emotional intelligence. I don’t want to spend my time working with brilliant a**holes. Emotionally intelligent people are empathetic, self-aware and more likely to be team players.

It is projected that by 2025, the average worker in Australia will need to learn seven new digital skills. In what ways are you addressing this challenge in your workplace? 

I’m a big advocate for fostering an environment of continuous learning. This means intentionally creating an environment for the team to learn and upskill in the areas they’re interested in. 

One of the best ways to learn new skills is to teach them, so I like to give my team the opportunity to teach, showcase or demonstrate a new tool, workshop or way of working. It’s amazing what you can learn even by simply watching how someone else works.

What can businesses and individuals do to progress in their digital maturity? 

Businesses should hire individuals who can educate the rest of the business on the latest digital trends. You can’t expect every executive to become the sole source of information on digital trends. Just hire people who live and breathe digital.

Individuals have access to more information than ever to grow in their digital maturity. Podcasts, eNewsletters, books, YouTube channels, meetups, blog posts — there’s heaps of resources out there. Individuals just need to find out what’s their preferred way to learn, and make it a regular habit. 

Learning and upskilling in digital should be a daily exercise — not something you neglect until you really need it. You wouldn’t prepare for a marathon by only running 20km the day before the race — you prepare by building your stamina in regular smaller increments over a long period of time.

Stephanie Shang – Head of Media, Australia, Essence (Group M)

Stephanie heads up the media practice at Essence (GroupM), whose key clients include Google, Airbnb, Vistaprint and more in the Australian market. 

Watch Stephanie in our recent webinar, “Digital Transformation Trends for 2021”.

What are the top three things you are looking for when hiring digital talent?

Beyond sound theoretical knowledge, this is what I look for when hiring. First, cognitive flexibility. The technology infrastructure and media landscape that underpin digital marketing is constantly evolving and fragmenting. Therefore, digital generalists need to cover more ground than ever before, and jump between various ideas and theories to solve problems. Effective adaptability to new information, situations and timelines is crucial to success. 

Second, critical thinking and analysis. It is really important to assess information beyond face value and assign genuine meaning to numbers and metrics. For example, how does this data impact cross-functional teams and stakeholders? Why should anyone care? How do we transform an observation into an insight? 

Third, effective communications skillsIt is imperative to be able to translate complex and technical information into something that is accessible for stakeholders and articulate the value of digital back to objectives and key results that matter to the end user.

It is projected that by 2025, the average worker in Australia will need to learn seven new digital skills. In what ways are you addressing this challenge in your workplace? 

Essence is a global data and measurement-driven media agency with digital heritage and analytics DNA. Beyond well-thought-out training programmes and practical application, we have always future-proofed ourselves by investing in emerging skills. 

Because we offer specialist capabilities in emerging growth areas, we are solving not only the problems of now, but also the challenges of the future. Think: data strategy, analytics, experience, strategy and advertising operations and beyond media services.

What can businesses and individuals do to progress in their digital maturity? 

Having a clear roadmap and end goal is fundamentaldigital transformation journeys can take years, not months. Only then can businesses and individuals make intentional investments into the right tools, technology and training that help concentrate their efforts, and generate value rather than spreading themselves too thin.

Let’s also not forget that all this great work is powered by brilliant minds. Strong leadership is required to set the ambition and motivate teams to adopt a transformational mindset. Meanwhile, diverse talent and cross-functional collaboration mean that decisions encompass all perspectives and scenarios, saving teams a lot of time and preventing them from hitting dead ends further down the line.

Josh Slighting – Head of Data & Digital Audience, Network 10

Josh leads multiple departments at the network and has built their data strategy and capabilities from the ground up. Watch Josh in our recent webinar, “Digital Transformation Trends for 2021”.

What are the top three things you are looking for when hiring digital talent?

First, critical thinking. The environment we work in is fast paced and evolving rapidly. People need to respond to the changing demands of their role and focus on solving problems. 

Second, attitude. 

Third, relevant experience – by this I mean direct experience or transferrable skills that would see this person productive in their role and trusted by the team within six months.

It is projected that by 2025, the average worker in Australia will need to learn seven new digital skills. In what ways are you addressing this challenge in your workplace? 

We are constantly innovating and pushing boundaries when it comes to digital; it’s a fast growing part of our business. Learning and the opportunity to try new things in the digital space can happen more organically as a result, and for us that can be a necessity. In our business, it’s not just digital skills that people need to learn, but also skills that sit adjacent to a particular subject matter expertise. 

Skills like project management, product management, strategy creation and customer experience design and service design are becoming increasingly important. 

We have focused learning and development programs through virtual course material, tailored training, and increasingly cross-functional and cross-discipline project based work offering people a chance to learn new things while working on interesting and challenging projects.

What can businesses and individuals do to progress in their digital maturity? 

For individuals: It’s important for people to continue to be (pro)active in their own learning and experience, and to take accountability of this for themselves. Things change very quickly, so it’s best for you to stay ahead of the changes and constantly invest in yourself. 

Mentoring and knowledge sharing outside of your business with colleagues in the same industry can be a very effective tool and can help you identify how your skills and understanding of potential industry changes is holding up, and therefore where there is opportunity to improve.

For businesses: This is a continuous process and not accomplished from a singular investment in something ‘transformative’. Digital should no longer be a standalone department or cost centre, but rather part of the way business is done. Generally speaking, technology will continue to accelerate digital capabilities and have a positive impact. However, the changing demands of consumers and pace of digital innovation require at minimum the same  investment in process improvement and ensuring your business has the variety and depth of skills to support the evolving business as usual model in a more digitally enabled world. 

Vida Asrina – Head of Experience Design, Endeavour X



Vida leads an experience design team of 25 designers (and growing) at Endeavour Drinks (Woolworths Group). She is also a ‘Designer In Residence’ at Academy Xi.

What are the top three things you are looking for when hiring digital talent?

First, interpersonal skills. Things like a growth mindset and positive attitude, someone who is flexible in their approach and a natural collaborator. Most importantly they are empathetic. Empathy is critical for both businesses and individuals to thrive. A good human being really – a team fit! 

Second, the technical skills and experience required for the role; they have robust technical skills and are flexible around how they do it. 

Third, communication skills and the ability to take people on a journey. Things like storytelling, talking design without jargon and can communicate clearly on their proposed approaches and solutions.

It is projected that by 2025, the average worker in Australia will need to learn seven  new digital skills. In what ways are you addressing this challenge in your workplace? 

At Endeavour X, we encourage people to share their own learnings. This is key in building capability. Organisations need to invest more in upskilling their employees. We look to collaborate with other organisations, including universities, and other organisations that provide learning and training opportunities. Optics are also important. We showcase a lot of what we do in the digital side of the organisation so the rest of the business has visibility. If people can’t see what is being achieved and how, they won’t necessarily reflect on their own skill sets critically and look to plug the gaps. 

Recruitment, hiring and how you structure a team also play an important role. How you mix different individuals in a team, with diverse backgrounds and personalities, will shape the dynamic of the team. If you get it right, you will have the right foundation for a high-performing team who support one another’s growth and value learning from one another.

What can businesses and individuals do to progress in their digital maturity? 

Two things here. The first is continuous learning. Keep learning, keep practicing, keep nurturing talent. We as individuals have a part to play in this too. 

Second, connect with your industry and your community. There is so much to be learnt from others.

Ainsley Johnstone – Founder & CEO, Think Talent

An entrepreneur at heart, Ainsley Johnstone leads award-winning recruitment agency ‘Think Talent’. Watch her in our webinar, “Help! I can’t get good tech talent!”

What are the top three things you are looking for when hiring digital talent?

First, strong stakeholder engagement and communication skills. Second, having a customer centric mindset. Third, the capability to innovate and solve problems. 

It is projected that by 2025, the average worker in Australia will need to learn seven new digital skills. In what ways are you addressing this challenge in your workplace? 

Digital literacy is already a must in all areas of employment and specific capability requirements will continue to grow and evolve with technology and customer demands. 

We are working with our clients to assess how they can iteratively uplift capability in flight without disrupting their operating rhythms by taking people away from their work for long periods of time. This is a real challenge but ultimately you need to keep pace or you will be left far behind. 

It is important to have a people strategy that considers how you plan to attract, acquire, engage and uplift talent around the life cycle to ensure the top digital capability is in the building at all times. 

The clients I see winning have a clear capability plan linked to their growth agenda and leverage a partner ecosystem that offers innovative learning solutions.

This challenge has ultimately brought us to a partnership with Academy Xi, where we are leveraging their skills to offer bite size learning opportunities at different points of the talent lifecycle to ensure top talent is up to date on critical skill requirements.  

What can businesses and individuals do to progress in their digital maturity? 

Upskill their business from the top down. 

They can ensure that all employees are digitally literate and have a base-level understanding of customer centric practices such as Co-creation, Human Centered Design, User Experience and Agile ways of working. From there, they can then target areas of the business that require deeper learning and ongoing capability development to keep pace.

It is also really important to attract top talent into key roles, especially in leadership positions where the vision and strategy are being set. I suggest working on developing a unique employment value proposition that will attract top talent and developing an innovative attraction and recruitment approach that will engage top talent now and into the future.

Want to ramp up your digital efforts straight away? Check out Academy Xi’s Intro Courses and Upskilling Workshops for teams and businesses.