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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.

Academy Xi Blog

Combatting Digital Imposter Syndrome

By Academy Xi

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“Who can I ask about this system?”

“Everyone seems to know how to use this program except me.”

“I am going to need help – but am embarrassed to ask.”

Sound familiar? The struggle of Digital Imposter Syndrome is real. We’ve all felt it at some point in our personal or professional lives.

Researchers say that up to 70% of people suffer from some form of Imposter Syndrome at one point or another. The fact that none of us are immune to it doesn’t make it any less destructive to our confidence.

The Digital version relates to the way people feel about themselves when interacting with programs, platforms, systems, data, emerging tech etc. One study conducted by Chapman University found that tech-related fears were the second most common fear category amongst adults. 

How often have you encountered a new piece of technology in the workplace and held back from asking the necessary questions to truly understand how it works? You held your tongue. Without this knowledge you won’t know how to leverage its potential. Or your own. Think of that productivity lag. This is how a seemingly innocuous mindset can collectively hold up business growth.

So what can businesses do?

Start by listening.

The starting point for addressing fear is to understand it. Listen to your people. What are you hearing to be the major barriers for them? What are the big pain points? How exactly are they struggling to interact with specific tech? Where do they feel that they fit into the broader digital ecosystem? To quote Zendesk, “Digital transformation can be a rough employee experience”, but it doesn’t have to be when you know what issues are of greatest concern.” 

Take your people on the journey. 

In one of our recent blogs, we discuss that when rolling out digital transformation projects, it is critical to bring your people along for the ride. It all starts with demystification. Bring the technology that underpins your organisation out into the light. To capture the full potential of any single piece of digital technology, your people need to:

  • a) Know how to use it
  • b) Know who to turn to when they have questions and
  • c) Understand where it fits into the broader organisational digital ecosystem

Mx Taîss Quartápa, a senior manager at Accenture, says ‘When I was managing the graduates at a previous workplace, I saw various versions of this [digital imposter syndrome]. The reactions I got really depended on the individual but would range from “No, I can’t do that, I haven’t been trained on that” to “I have only learnt wireframing on x software, not on y software” to “I’m just faking it – I google things and copy what to do – I’m sure that won’t always work”.

Pictured: Taîss Quartápa

Provide the right training at the right time.

All organisational digital transformation is progressive. As a company, you need to crawl before you walk and walk before you run (digitally speaking). This same concept trickles down into the way you support your people. It is about giving everyone the right education at the right time. There is no use rolling out a training program for a new system if they don’t understand where it fits, how it impacts them or why the company has chosen to go in this direction in the first place.

Quartápa says that it is a matter of reframing. ‘If we reframe imposter syndrome to imposter experience perhaps we would evaluate it with a more objective lense.’ They believe self-doubt is normal, especially when venturing into the unknown and challenging territory — something they believe we continue to do daily as part of the very definition of our roles.

Alleviate anxiety through cultural change. 

Businesses need their people to be courageous. The message needs to be: “Let’s prioritise taking the action we need to achieve our goals over looking foolish and feeling fearful”. This is obviously a mindset shift in a working environment where ‘not knowing’ is often seen as weakness. 

In their teams, Quartápa says that “a willingness to ask for help is a key attribute to their success. I expect them to be curious, to keep trying new things and that I know that can be really hard, especially when you’re new and trying to demonstrate competence early. I know everyone says “there are no stupid questions” but there actually is such thing as a so-called stupid question. It’s the question that you could have found the answer to on your own. So, read books, ask peers or google it – there’s no wrong way to admit that you do not know everything, and that you are willing to learn more.”

Our opinion? We believe that the best possible place to start with this change is at the top. Consider how powerful it would be for your Executive Team to declare “We aren’t ‘digital natives’ and could use some help to adapt to these new ways of working.” Talk about courage.

If ever there was a time to support people struggling with Digital Imposter Syndrome it is in the wake of COVID-19. We all now have a much greater reliance on technology. In a time where we are expected to use digital skills intensely across various parts of our jobs, organisations need to be aware of the additional strain this can place on their people.

Want to give your teams a boost in digital confidence?

We have training solutions for every stage of the digital journey. From Intro Courses (1 day) to larger digital transformation programs, we can help. Discuss your digital training needs with us. 

Academy Xi Webinars

Digital Transformation Trends for 2021

By Academy Xi

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Which trends are underpinning digital innovation?

2020 was a real shake up. The last twelve months alone have produced more digital transformation than the last decade. Businesses have been forced to accelerate their digitalisation plans, often at scale.

Join us for this panel where we discuss which trends organisations must master in order to ride the next wave of digital innovation.

Panellists:

In this webinar you will learn:

  • Which trends are shaping digital transformation
  • Why businesses have needed to increase digital investment across the board
  • How these digital trends will be felt by the end customer.
Want to keep up to date with the latest webinars from Academy Xi? Follow us here on LinkedIn.

Academy Xi Blog

Digital Transformation. It’s as much about your people as it is your tech.

By Academy Xi

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“By 2025, the average worker will need to learn 7 new digital skills.” (Source)

In terms of the way we work, the rate of change has undeniably sped up thanks to COVID. Where digital disruption was likely, it is now inevitable for most businesses. If 2020 gave us all a massive push toward digital transformation, 2021 is about continuing the forward momentum. 

The backdrop for learning and development has never been more dramatic. To capture the full potential of digital technologies, businesses are going to need to invest in the training and development of their people.

Keep reading for our take on:

  • How ‘digital imposter syndrome’ and a siloed workplace can hamper digital transformation efforts
  • Why incentivising ‘digital-first’ decision making will galvanise your digital transformation
  • What does successful digital upskilling and training look like
  • How to take your people on the digital transformation journey, step by step

 

Preparedness = people + tech

Most companies are now opting for a ‘digital-first’ mindset as they acknowledge the central role technology now plays to their success. What is a digital-first mindset? Simply put, it means recognising any new opportunity or problem is going to need to be solved as digitally as possible. When done right, it helps to increase efficiency, scale and find new ways to appeal to customers. However, these benefits fall flat when they are not paired with the right learning and development. As Forbes concisely stated, “digital-first business demands a people-first mindset”. Fostering a sustainable digital workforce trumps the implementation of any single technology.

A study from MIT concluded that businesses that invest in digital skills training for their people tend to outperform their competitors. They showed an average of 19% more growth and were 15% more profitable.

As core technologies become increasingly available, differentiation won’t come in the form of the technology itself. Instead, the key factor for success will be around the success of adoption. How well can your people adapt to take advantage of the new opportunities the technology affords. Unsurprisingly, this is all about upskilling for the individual within the broader context of learning and development for the organisation.

 

Taking your people on the Digital Transformation journey

As a leader, when you are planning for digital transformation, it is crucial to consider the people that are going to bring it to life. People make technology useful. If you have broad-scale, organisation-wide transformation in your plans, giving your people the right tools and mindsets to provide them with the confidence to enable its successful realisation.

  1. Demystify digital. It is often assumed that your people understand the people, systems and processes that make up your digital ecosystem. By laying out how the different parts of your digital business interrelate, you are training your people in an area that can provoke anxiety for many. 
  2. Help your people shed ‘digital imposter syndrome’. Like anything new, technology can be intimidating. To increase new technology adoption and confidence, it is going to take an investment in training and development. Without this, you run the risk of resistance and people finding workarounds. 
  3. Develop a shared language around digital. A shared, common language provides clarity around goals and ensures a common understanding. This is about laying a sound platform for your people to work and collaborate confidently in your ‘new normal’. This will also help drive new technology adoption and increase productivity.
  4. Encourage and incentivise ‘digital-first’ decision making. A digital-first company not only uses technology in innovative ways but also creates a culture, structure and processes to support broader digital uplift. Combine this with a culture of design-thinking and you’ve got a winning combination. Read how brands like Uber, AirBNB, Pepsi, and GE innovate using Design Thinking.
  5. Make tech not just the exclusive domain of your development and tech teams. What we’ve found is that when more people understand the why behind technological change, they are quicker to adopt it. Not everyone needs to be an expert. Even having a baseline level of knowledge can be helpful when needing to work with seemingly complex technology like software for example.
  6. Cultivate an agile talent pool. This is easier said than done but worthy of real, ongoing attention. The more agile your people are, the better your business can constantly reshape itself to address new market challenges, offer new products and services, and fend off competition. 
  7. Appreciate employee differences and provide support. Addressing employees’ differing workplace expectations based on their digital fluency can be extremely challenging. Gen Y and Baby Boomers are likely to find a ‘digital first’ mindset more of a stretch than Millennials and Gen Z. 
  8. Be prepared for a period of adjustment. When it comes to digital transformation, there is often a honeymoon period within organisations. Employees feel buoyed by the promise of a better way of doing things. This is often naturally followed by culture shock when people realize how much they don’t know, then adjustment, and then mastery. 

The benefits for those businesses that execute their digital transformation strategies are going to be profound. Namely, capture the potential of digital technologies and ensure their people are along for the journey. But to do this, continued interest and investment in training and development is required. To capitalize on the opportunity of digital, companies need to adopt a people-first approach to business.

 

Need help with digital transformation in your organisation?

Check out our suite of courses in disciplines such as Customer-Centricity, Data Capability, Digital Literacy and more. Download a course guide and contact us.

Need more proof that investing in your people is a strong strategy at any point along your digital transformation journey? Check out our latest blog “5 Reasons To Invest in Upskilling”.