Ask most business leaders to identify the biggest obstacles to digital transformation and they’re likely to point to their workforces. Lack of skills and resistance to change are often cited as big hurdles.

However, our research shows that employees are much more willing and able to embrace digital transformation than executives often assume. Indeed, one of the main barriers to such change is likely to be the business leaders themselves.

Our study of more than 2,500 employees in Europe reveals that most of these workers believe digital technology will improve their work experiences and job prospects. Furthermore, many of these employees are already looking to get the skills they need to perform well in a digital environment.  Young, well-educated workers, as well as employees in high-level roles, are most enthusiastic about digital transformation.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Most employees are upbeat about the advance of digital technology, with 71 percent identifying the team benefits of innovation, 69 percent highlighting greater organizational agility and 68 percent pointing to productivity improvements.
  • The majority of employees, 81 percent, recognize that digital technology will transform the way they work and around 40 percent believe the change will be considerable.
  • Many employees, 64 percent, have started improving their skills in readiness for a more digital workplace.

More than half the employees we contacted doubt that their leaders are ready for digital transformation. Are their concerns justified? To some extent, yes.

We canvassed around 700 business leaders in major economies around the world and found that few of them are sufficiently prepared to manage their workforces in the new digital environment. Only about a third consider themselves ready. The illustration below shows the areas where business leaders believe they’re well prepared.

Areas where business leaders believe they are well prepared for digital transformation

The shortfall in digital readiness stretches across all of the business leaders’ typical workforce responsibilities. Perhaps most concerning is the lack of confidence in their ability to exercise leadership in the shift to a digital environment. Only 30 percent believe they’re adequately prepared to change leadership and management practices to adapt their businesses to the digital ecosystem. A staggering 70 percent, therefore, are insufficiently prepared to lead their organizations through the demands of becoming digital businesses.

In my next blog post, I’ll discuss one of the most important requirements for successful digital transformation: strong leadership. Meanwhile, have a look at these links. I think you’ll find them worthwhile.

Being digital: Embrace the future of work and your people will embrace it with you

Change or be changed: Shaping the IT workforce of the future

The Impact of Technology on the Future of Work: From Looking Digital to Being Digital

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