What Key Skills Are Needed to Drive Digital Transformation?

by Digital Marketing Institute

Posted on Dec 19, 2018

What Key Skills Are Needed to Drive Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is a development that businesses have been cognizant of for a number of years. Ever since computers started making their way into offices, enterprises have been the first to appreciate the primary benefit of digital technology: speed.

But in the 21st century, the array of different applications of digital transformation is staggering. Speed is no longer the only benefit, as everything from interactivity to accessibility is affected by the convenience, power, versatility, and speed of digital technology.

Digital transformation is propelling businesses forward as technologies advance at an incredible pace. It's the workforce with key skills that will be set to exploit these developments to gain a competitive edge.

In this article, we explore what businesses should be doing, and what kind of skillsets are needed to improve performance and profits?

Digital Literacy

It sounds like this should go without saying, but businesses should never take the fundamentals for granted.

It's not such a stretch to assume that some potential employees lack complete digital literacy. Most people may be familiar with using social media for basic posts, but for more, they may not be familiar with specialized tasks on those channels.

Your business may also want someone who can navigate the entire Microsoft Office Suite software or more focused programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. or use analytics software such as Google Analytics. It's not wise to take it for granted that everyone in your company can interchangeably use these programs with little or no difficulty.

There's always new software, algorithms, computing languages, online standards and protocols being developed. Make sure that your staff stays on top of these digital trends.

Your business should also find ways to reward and promote advancements in digital literacy within your company. Ignoring technology today can lead to falling behind and, ultimately, irrelevance in an incredibly competitive business environment.

Data and Digital Security

Cybercrime statistics 2001 to 2017

More than ever, especially with the news that Facebook suffered a breach that compromised the private data of millions of Americans, security is a growing concern and vital area in which to have or develop skills.

Physical security is a comparatively simple task of "hardening" a facility with security cameras, good locks, and, of course, security guards. But how do you protect your data, or, more importantly, customer data? Do you know what to do if your own information is seized and you're the victim of a data hostage threat, where you must pay a ransom to have access to your own data and have it restored? Do you know whether people have already broken into your system and are monitoring your activity or even copying sensitive research material or private data?

Digital security is one of the top growing concerns of many businesses around the globe. However, it is a complex discipline that requires technical proficiency as well as the instincts to anticipate the unconventional methods of incoming attacks and prepare defenses to counteract them. Digital security should not be ignored or left in the hands of untrained staff as an afterthought. It should be one of the primary concerns of every business, especially those that handle private customer information, such as credit card numbers, bank accounts, or social insurance numbers.

Always make sure that someone in your business is conversant in digital security, or else you risk leaving your customers—and your business—vulnerable to a severe data breach and theft. Your business stores a lot of information online or in digital databases, and in defending this data, you are not only protecting your clients but your reputation and the future of your business.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an extremely important skill to have in any modern marketing department. We still live in a real world that responds to older media like billboards, giant displays on the sides of buildings, radio commercials, posters on bus stops or subways, and television commercials. However, we now have a digital world to contend with as well. In this modern society, we engage just as much with social media and digital content on our phones and desktop or laptop computers as we do with materials in the real world.

Marketing departments must now be willing to explore the interactive and analytic possibilities that come from using digital media to inform and engage with the market. Digital transformation has overhauled the one-way, passive experience that marketing used to be for an audience.

Digitally savvy marketers that can understand and exploit the level of engagement afforded by digital marketing, stand the best chance of making an impact with consumers. Social media, video production, email marketing, and content marketing are all important channels of promotion and require a well-rounded skill set to make the most of it.

Data Analysis

Data Analysis

As the old saying goes, 'knowledge is power' and one of the biggest gifts that digital technology brings to business is huge amounts of actionable data. But that's only if your business is able to recognize and make use of the data that you have available.

After all, if your organization isn't sure who your target demographic is, where they like to shop, which devices they use to research and browse, then how will you know where to direct your marketing and creative dollars? If your teams can't find the analytics tools or read the data they output, how will your business know that your campaign is worth its funding?

Data can be an invaluable tool to help a business spot areas of weakness or capitalize on strengths, but only if a company has the personnel with skills to find software, interpret data, and formulate useful insights that can then be acted upon. Every business needs to be open to looking at the vast amounts of data that are now available both from customers and clients, as well as internally, through normal operations.

Businesses will benefit from the expertise of employees who can analyze crucial data, draw meaningful conclusions, and put that data into action through new policies and strategies. Data analysis may not be a glamorous task, but it is supremely valuable.


A skillset or corporate philosophy that has been gaining traction in the last ten years is DevOps or software development that focuses on collaboration, rather than isolation.

It’s a combination of development and operations. Traditionally in software development, the people who were responsible for creating the software, the coders and programmers, were functionally isolated from the rest of the company.

People came up with ideas for what they wanted the software to do, with no idea of whether it was feasible or not, and the job of executing that vision went to the coding team, with no real interaction between the operations team and the technical staff.

DevOps requires a skill set of respect and collaboration so that a whole team can work together to envision and design the software that helps a company operate in peak form. In other words, marketing, concept, and programming are no longer isolated zones.

They are invested in working together, to understand how each department can lift the other, rather than use them as competitive stepping stones to reap management rewards in their individual departments.

Mobility Management

As businesses are transformed by digital technology and processes, they are affected by information storage and access as well as human resource management. Do you need to open a call center, when you could rely on a combination of automation or chatbots for low-level customer support and a remote team for the remaining human-level technical support?

We now live in an age where remote work and even collaboration with new vendors, clients, and partners no longer requires necessarily living in the same city or even country. To get the most efficient, cost-effective solutions, businesses must think outside of the conventional means, such as opening physical facilities and paying for full-time staff.

Businesses need leaders who can find and manage digital solutions. Keep yourself up to date on ways to maximize efficiency. Your company may benefit from storing files in a hybrid cloud system for redundancy and security, or from hiring remotely for certain specialized or more menial tasks. Develop an understanding of the digital solutions that could improve your company.

Machine Learning

20/20 Vision report findings on marketing automation

Automation is one of the fastest growing areas in all sectors of business. Vehicles are learning to drive themselves for logistics companies. Software is now taking up basic accounting activities to ease the load on human CPAs, and even chatbots are now tackling low-level customer support requests and concerns.

All of this is made possible by machine learning. Understanding the processes behind machine learning or even being able to identify ways automation could improve your company's operations is an excellent place to start.

The machine learning sector values skills to create software, absorb new information, deduce what is useful, and then apply that useful information to future actions. In order to make the most of automation in hardware, software and business activity, machine learning is essential.

Businesses should focus on cultivating the skills to develop machine learning software, on acquiring the staff who can, or partnering with companies that specialize in this rapidly growing sector of the business world.


Digital transformation is changing the way brands do business in many ways, some predicted, and some unanticipated.

While it can be a challenge to both know where to start and progress, it's key to keep the skills of your workforce in mind as a key part of the process.

From digital marketing to social customer service to machine learning to analytics, all teams require some level of digital knowledge to meet the needs of a growing business in a digital world.

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