Master tech talent management or fail to digital goals

Martina Kurth / Gartner

Network-based CSPs around the world, such as AT&T, Telefonica, Vodafone and DT have embarked upon primarily technology-centric initiatives to manage the shift toward becoming a digital service provider (DSP). However, such digital technology transformations often lack organizational and change management leadership, tackling intrinsic skill set, behavioral and cultural implications that underpin the core of digital business.

We see significant talent management challenges that arise in the context of the proliferation of digital technologies such as cloud, SDN/NFV, 5G and IoT. The crux of digital technology is about enabling fundamentally new business models that entail usage based discrete, real-time, AI-driven operational interactions and events residing in digital partner ecosystems.

Also the nature of underlying services will change from traditional telco to services with unique service quality, low latency and bandwidth requirements, enabling use cases such as augmented reality, drone video, network slicing and IoT.

CSPs will fail in their digital technology endeavors without pro-active anticipation of implications on workforce, culture, operational processes and product/service development as part of wider digital value creation chains.

The CSP technology talent challenge goes beyond traditional telco gap and requires deeper structural, cultural and talent rejuvenation.

Digital technology cuts deep into the DNA of any telco and the way they design, create and deliver services to clients. Talent management implies fostering a novel employee mindset in terms of running and operating digital as well as selling digital services and interacting with partners and clients in an adaptive organizational fashion-all these facets encompass digital dexterity.

Digital dexterity means having the necessary skills to unlock the business value of digital technology. Please read for more details my recently published note on digital technology talent management in the CSP domain: CSPs Need to Master Technology Talent Management Challenges to Achieve Digital Dexterity

Technology infrastructure transformation programs cannot unlock the business value of digital technology without factoring in people, organization and skill sets. Here are the four major digital dexterity factors that CSPs` technology talent management initiatives need to tackle:

Impact 1: The paradigm shift from network-based operator to software driven operator cuts deep into the traditional development and operations structures. The result will be a new DNA in the way CSPs create, design and deliver services to clients, capturing innovation as an integral part of digital ecosystems.

CSPs worldwide embrace agile, software-driven DevOps structures to cultivate new digital service design and delivery processes across in their daily processes and routines as they manage the transition toward becoming a software driven operator.

Impact 2: Non-technical skill deficiencies create digital talent cliffs: CSPs need to factor in bottlenecks created by non-technical skillset obstacles that hamper the execution of major technical transformations.

Non-technical skills, such as collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurial and design thinking become decisive skills to support the success of digital technology launches. CSPs are well advised to get technical basics, but don´t neglect the emphasis on non-technical skills.

Impact 3: Digital technology will face constraints by traditional organizational models. Adaptive organizational and governance structures gain prominence in high-tech industries to deal with technical change

Novel organizational structures, are bound release the actual potential of digital talent. Early mover CSPs opt for adaptive, self-organizing autonomous organizational models, such as holacracy, to keep up with the pace and flexibility need to foster digital innovation.

Impact 4: Culture and mindset underpin digital dexterity. While technology talent and skillset overhaul takes center stage as digital technology manifests, the necessary shift toward digital culture and mindset can only be triggered through behavioral changes, such as cultural hacking. Strong change management leadership will be indispensable in tandem with technology transformations for them to succeed.

Network based CSP´s have to adopt an agile, on-demand service delivery culture that is the norm for cloud-native companies operating in the digital business paradigm. The implied significant operational and business and skill-set evolution will be bound by behavioral obstacles. Culture is the major inhibitor for CSPs scaling digital innovation and executing technology transformation. For example, hacking culture implies triggering changes in repeatedly behavior that is needed to achieve inevitable operating and business models changes to become a DSP.

First published on Gartner Blog Network

Martina Kurth is a research director at Gartner

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