Procurement 26 May 2017

Five ways small business owners can digitally upskill their workforce

Digitally upskill
The government partnered with Lloyds, Barclays and Google to deliver its pledge to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business
Writing for Business Advice, Simon Blunn, UK managing director of Qlik, provides expert advice for smaller employers looking to digitally upskill their staff and grow their company.

According the?Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)uK employers are spending less on training than other major economies. it’s a worrying revelation when you consider that the skills gap is growing all the time.

With the new challenges that face businesses, and with employees as an organisation’s biggest asset, it is hard to understand why this investment to ensure digital upskilling is not there.

The government has recognised its importance, and is making it a top priority. When its Digital Strategy was launched in March, a new?Digital Skills Partnershipwas announced, bringing together businesses, local authorities and charities in order to raise awareness of the digital training available and to ensure everyone has the right skills for jobs in their area.

Businesses meanwhile are defined or enabled by the latest technologies and so should founders also be taking an active responsibility in ensuring that their own employees have the access to training and the chance to digitally upskill.

UK companiesof any shape or size need to have teams that are actively able to work with and master the huge amounts of digital information available, such as data scientists, application developers, and business analysts, if they are to succeed today.

However, not all businesses have the resources to be able to hire and train a data analyst or equivalent. And, even if they could, it’s often the employees closest to the situation who are able to garner the best insights from say their department or customers data.

This means data literacy the ability to read, work with and analyse data has changed from being a nice-to-have to a must-have skill for all employees. If more people are enabled with great self-service technology, it will facilitate data literacy.

Were already seeing organisations move towards a business model where all staff are data literate.

Take Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust for instance.The Trust has created an application that provides live A&E intelligence to all staff doctors, nurses, clinicians and the board giving a greater understanding of where patients are in their journey through the hospital. Theyve decreased waiting times by 30 minutes, saved over 1m due to improved workforce planning and are, ultimately, all using data to save lives.

The key to WWL’s success was by empowering all staff to work with data analytics by creating an easy to use, and visually appealing application. Information generated from this application also feeds into a live, interactive screen in the A&E department giving real-time updates into Trust performance, and fostering inter-departmental collaboration and discussion.

Meanwhile, National Express has instilled a culture of data literacy across the organisation so anyone from the Business Intelligence team to drivers across their fleet can check in on the latest information and see how they can improve anything from coach schedules to driving routes.

A successful adoption was achieved because the organisation let staff individually analyse and work with data in the specific ways they needed to for their role as opposed to laying out set drill-paths

Encouraging the development of these skills is an initiative that needs to be set from the top. Organisations need to not only be willing to invest in the right training to digitally upskill all staff, but be committed to change readiness. This requires five important steps.

  1. Communication is key

The leadership of a business must explain the benefits of adopting data literacy (or any new skill or tool) to anyone who may be affected. Employees have to believe that the change will benefit them in their day to day work in order to be successful, and of course willing.

  1. Accept the fact that there will be resistance


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