How is digitisation changing the world of work?

31st January 2018
Alice Matthews

The requirement profiles of executives is getting increasingly demanding with the digital transformation of the economy. Alongside the classical management skills, they need ever greater digital competency. At the same time, they are required to keep an eye on entrepreneurial developments and to further advance the overall strategy. In addition to the classic management skills, know-how in areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber security and the IoT is increasingly becoming a critical success factor in management.

CDOs, IT security managers, mobile developers – ten years ago, these professions were still largely unknown. Today, they are among the most sought-after job descriptions of all. This development shows how strongly the labour market is currently evolving. Job profiles are created from scratch or are changing constantly and digital expertise is currently required in almost all industries. Companies are facing a major challenge to find executives who meet these high and complex needs.

The executives of tomorrow will be required to have these skills
“In addition to a basic digital literacy, the executives of tomorrow will also need a generous helping of agility to quickly – but assuredly – get to grip with new themes and requirements and to tackle problems in a solution-oriented manner,” explained Andreas Wartenberg, Managing Director of Hager.

In addition to the traditional skills, such as assertiveness, empathy, complexity management and specialist skills, executives also need a solid knowledge of the latest technologies and trends, like blockchains, digitisation, AI, IoT, and cyber security, the headhunter added.

“With regard to the strategic alignment of a company, executives are in demand at the planning stage and are required to set the course of the company with their expertise and know-how. At the latest when new or newer technologies are used in businesses, it is imperative that executives have the technical expertise to implement them successfully, and also ‘carry’ the employees along with them,” said Wartenberg.

To successfully plan a business strategy, tomorrow’s executives will need to have a solid grasp of the possibilities as well as the challenges that need to be considered when working with new technologies. For example, in the field of AI or IoT, executives need technical understanding to work out business strategies.

In the realm of cyber security, in addition to having the general required expertise, executives will also need to be able to understand the behavioural patterns of potential attackers as well as to detect vulnerabilities within their own company and to successfully define potential defence mechanisms.

What are the reasons for this?
“The responsible executives must have the vision – driven by new technologies – from which they can create an appropriate business strategy. This often involves knowledgeable and convincing persuasion work, to introduce new ideas into traditional corporate structures and to convince directors or employees to take new and different paths,” said the Managing Director of Hager. For that reason, consolidated expertise is necessary to clearly explain the strategy to all stakeholders and also to convince them of its validity.

Artificial intelligence, the IoT, and more
The areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, in particular, are experiencing an inexorable wave of development. Artificial intelligence is already increasingly finding its way into our everyday lives and is well on the way to becoming mainstream. Therefore, it is not enough to simply have a grasp of the technical skills regarding the topic of AI, IoT and digitisation. “Top managers and knowledge workers must also have a pronounced affinity for digital media and knowledge of the latest technology leagues, so they can make the right decisions in any leadership positions,” said Wartenberg.

Lifelong learning required
But how can one, as a manager, stay up to date or fill the knowledge gaps? “Executives who are already open to new media and techniques, are usually also ready for and even curious to experience changes and to learn other technical topics,” explained the executive search consultant. As a result, lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important for executives in these times of disruptive and constantly evolving technologies. “Companies, whose leadership is not up to date with the latest state of knowledge stagnate and may not advance their digital growth, because new technologies are not being recognised or used. It should be in the interest of each company to be open to new technologies and not shy away from further education measures,” Wartenberg explained.

Shortage of managers: headhunters can help
Why should companies call on the services of recruitment consultants when they are looking to hire executives with technology skills? “Experienced headhunters understand the contexts, structures and developments of the changing economy – in detail and holistically. Thanks to this specialisation, executive search consultants are well aware of the positions to be filled, as well as the underlying requirements of the customer and can find custom-fit candidates with the required technology skills. Also, professional consulting firms are able to analyse the candidate’s level of digital literacy as well as their inner motivation for a leadership position – or lack thereof,” said Wartenberg.

The requirements for the managers of tomorrow are becoming increasingly complex. To master the digital transformation within the company, they need have ever more high-tech skills. A basic understanding of important future technologies such as AI, machine learning, IT security, or IoT is essential. To close knowledge gaps and to stay on the cutting edge of technology requires permanent training. Due to the increasing shortages of highly qualified specialists and managers, it can be useful for businesses to work together with an experienced and specialised headhunter in the war for talent.

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