By Werners Vogels
Chief Technology Officer at Amazon.com
DIGITALIZATION OFFERS almost endless possibilities to communicate faster, work more efficiently, and be more creative — in real-time. Groundbreaking digital business models also need pioneers: creators, forward-looking thinkers, and inventors.
The rise in digital business models is a huge challenge for recruiting and talent selection. The sort of skills businesses need today are in short supply and the demand for this knowledge will increase significantly in the next few years as customers expect more digital engagements.
Recruiting and selection in the digital age therefore needs to be tackled in a more strategic way than in the past. So how do you position your company as an attractive employer for digitally savvy talent?
WANTED: MIXED SKILL SETS
One of the ways to attract the best digital talent is to keep an eye out for applicants who bring a diverse mix of skills.
Two things are crucial here. First, you need talented individuals who want to be customer-centric and who are able to cross the traditional (internal) customer and IT organizational boundaries in order to truly feel what customers want. In some cases, it could be helpful to even ‘embed’ your employees as customers for a period of time. Secondly, it’s clear, that digital business models require experts who view data as an essential element of future value creation – regardless of the specific expertise they bring to the company.
SHOWCASE YOUR BEST TALENT — AND GIVE THEM WHAT THEY NEED
It’s important to encourage the employees you already have, provide them with resources and let them decide things themselves. They should be able to follow their ideas and feel accountable for them. Offering regular development opportunities can also help you make the most of your talent. Development will have to be customized for each individual. That might be a course, the opportunity to lead a project, or gaining new insights by working in another part of the company.
Some companies have created cross-business-unit roles such as the chief digital officer (CDO) in order to connect everything that needs to be thought of in a unified way in the digital world. Their responsibilities include defining future growth areas, spearheading change processes and allocating resources in a new way so that the company is ready to face the digital era and address ever-changing customer expectations.
CREATE ROOM FOR ADVENTURE
Finally, be aware of the impact of your culture. Today’s digital talent seeks adventure and a job that gives them meaning. The more comfortable they feel in the workplace, the more willing they will be to work harder for your company’s success.
The most innovative companies are usually the ones that stand for a culture where failure is explicitly allowed — and even desired — because the path to transformational innovations can never be straight and failure is a sign of progressive thinking. That’s why companies should look out for candidates who love to experiment, who are prepared to take other paths, and who are energetic enough to quickly find a way out of a dead-end. Employees should be encouraged to focus constantly on customers’ needs and to continuously improve themselves. That can be inconvenient. But to thrive, innovations need an amount of push and drive.
Digitalization is happening faster than ever before. That shouldn’t be an excuse for taking shortcuts in recruiting. Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon once said: “I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.” In the end, only a carefully planned and executed HR strategy will allow a company to fully reap the benefits of digital transformation and develop it in such a way that it fulfils the company’s long-term goals.