1. Peter Schooff
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  4. Tuesday, 20 February 2018
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With digital transformation only picking up speed, what skills do you think will be in the biggest demand for the digital organization?
Jim Sinur
Blog Writer
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
It is important to have yourself prepared to participate well in the digital world where speed of upgrade is essential. The first step is to identify the top skills that organizations are likely to want. The second step would be to select the skills that best match your passion and abilities. The third step is to decide to be proactive in acquiring those skills. Since few organizations today are investing getting their people to a participating digital level, you are pretty much on your own. If you happen to work for an organization that invests in people, take full advantage of any education and training you can get. If you don't maybe it's time to change jobs. In any event, you are likely to have to aggressively pursue skills on your own. You are in charge of your own digital transformation!!

Business Skills:
Strategy & Planning

These skills revolve around creating mater plans and designing the measurements and operations to get to the desired outcomes. This usually means establishing policies, action plans and key performance indicators.

Digital Product Creation & Ownership

This involves skills related to oversight and development of new online products or services from inception to delivery. Using result data, manage improvements to enhance the digital product or service.

Digital Content Creation & Marketing

This form of marketing is focused on creating, publishing and distributing digital content such as videos, podcasts, infographics, social media and blogs for a target audience. This content is often used to attract and generate leads for future customers while increasing brand awareness or credibility

Business / Technical Skills:
Digital Experience Design

Designing compelling interactions for people is essential for digital success. Focusing on journeys and persona's while optimizing the touch points for both people and the organization is an essential suite of skills.

New Wave Analytics

Applying the most useful analytics to big and fast data is essential to outflank competitors and intercept key trends. These "aha moments"allow for better decisions and actions that get to better outcomes.

Agile Project Management / SCRUM

Project management involves planning, executing, controlling and finishing the work of a team to achieve specific deliverables within time and quality specifications. Iterative and sandbox like methods are popular in digital efforts.

Next Generation Machine Learning

AI requires changes in managing projects, process and applications. Teaching machines to learn is one area of concentration, but guiding and improving truly intelligent and agile systems that can self change will be at the edge of digital

Technical Skills:
Full Stack Architecture

Because the rapidly changing and complex technology landscape, architecture is shifting to include fluency across all technology components that support digital efforts in development and operations,

Programming & DevOps

This involves new digital development models, languages and scripting languages to support rapid development and agile digital solutions. With the advent of cloud computing and agile infrastructure, the configuration and programming skills necessary to optimize operations will be in great demand.

Systems Administrators

The ability to manage the care and feeding of IT infrastructures, processes and applications will be in short supply. This is especially true in highly distributed organizations with local resources.

Net; Net:
If you want to excel in the new digital age, you will need to develop a plan for yourself and assertively execute on a plan to become a great digital resource in your areas of interest and abilities. This means you search for resources online and consume as many videos, follow key blogs, link to great social resources and even read key digital books. The ball is in your court, so step up and strike it.
  1. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2017/11/prgamatic-digital-skill-building.html
  2. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-top-seven-digital-competencies-for.html
  3. https://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-top-seven-ingredients-in-digital.html
@Scott... very nice list of skills to acquire/have . .
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Re skills that organizations need in order to transition to "digital" - I would list "digital architect" as #1.

I don't think this person should be in IT or report to IT (at least old IT) - it's more of a business analysis role (again, not the traditional "business analyst" role).

Success/failure depends on how good a job this person is at detailing ways and means of improving competitive advantage via digital, whether the corporation agrees to fund the initiative, and the extent to which the d.a. is able to get the initial and ongoing cooperation of IT (and all other departments impacted).
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 2
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The ability to understand and translate the vision of the customer. In today's world, the digital journey has been about digitizing the enterprise data and compliance to how a business operates, not architecting from the outside in. Yes, many organizations are looking outside in and developing some cool things but a large majority are not really understanding the customer journey/life cycle and creating a true experience in the customer's desire, needs etc.... The digital enterprise needs that architect who really has vision of the customer and can translate that to architectural plans and a beautiful functional experience. Much as an architect with vision is to the home owner trying to build a house on a empty piece of land. In addition, Augmented Reality is the next real skill needed to ultimately get enterprise to the digital galaxy. Looking at a google map requires translation in your brain when listening to direction blurted out- orientating to what you are seeing and the action you need to take- but augmented reality integrates the map into your driving movement such that you see an arrow on your windshield that aligns you vision to the exit ahead. You are not looking at the map and deciphering where how etc to direct the car as google blurts out direction. Imagine that a customer interaction in an enterprise call center requires less translation on the call center reps behalf to determine how to solve the problem- ie. less interpreting the system screen- when an angry customer is on the other end. Call centers may even go away but its a good example within the enterprise. Having digital skills in the enterprise that really understands the customer journey and can 'architect' the right platforms that 'integrate' into the actions of problem resolution, is the next step to the true digital enterprise galaxy.......
Agree, the digital architect needs to "understand and translate the vision of the customer" but the digital architect needs a wider horizon

i.e. what about corporations inventing new products for which customers have yet to be identified? corporations that already do a good job at customer desires/needs but are not doing well at building and enhancing competitive advantage?
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
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This is an easy question: business analysis. Research by Burning Glass Technologies who looked at 100 million job postings across over 40,000 sites. "Business analysis is the #1 skill desired by employers"
Sure. And no doubt McDonald's is always on the search for kitchen staff. But I'm not sure that means that fryolater operation skills are the ticket for 21st century employment.

Also, you know: robots.
(Note: I wasn't comparing business analysts with fry cooks, just noting that job availability may not translate into career desirability.)
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #5076
Nice data point!

I planned/plan to share a post that said exactly that. One can quibble of course (e. g. hiring intentions versus reality on the ground etc). But you're on to something. Because digital enterprise is still business.

And every "up till now" essential business skill is still an essential business skill. (Sure demand for some technical skill will fade.) But demand for BA skills is different. Because the demand for BA skills is driven by the evolving nature of digital enterprise (DE) itself.

By definition, DE requires the unprecedented manufacture of novel artefacts (and associated practices) of technology; these artefacts constitute the "digital" in enterprise.

BA (OK broadly defined and including industrial engineers), also by definition, encompasses exactly the skill set concerned with the specification of the distinguishing artefacts of the digital enterprise.

(BA previously was not as central to enterprise ecosystems, for multiple reasons. One can also explore the question of make or buy.)

Cocktail party career advice hasn't been "plastics" for quite a while, but going forward "business analysis" might not be such a bad suggestion.

Original reference to the movie The Graduate:

  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #5083
I suppose it's possible that @Ian's original post might have been offered in part as jest. That only makes our dialogue more entertaining. : )
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 4
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I believe the single most important skill will be the ability to identify the new business objectives that should accompany a digital transformation. Without those, you are just (to totally steal Jim Sinur's term) digital sugar coating.

I think this is where many digital transformation efforts are going awry. They are trying to solve the same problems for the same reasons and looking for different outcomes. With digital transformation, you are solving the same or similar problems for very different reasons because you are looking for different outcomes.
Rachel, although your identity is mysterious, your comments are right on the mark. The trick is always knowing what to do (read: how to make money, or effect change) with the technology.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 5
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
In the digital era, the most important skills/traits will be ethics, persuasiveness (AKA salesmanship*), analytical problem solving, adaptivity, and caring for others.

Fun fact: those are the same skills that have always been the most important**.

*) Please pardon the gendered terminology
**) Unless a family member has been abducted by terrorists, in which case there's a very particular set of skills that may come in handy.

Scott's opinions only. Logo provided for identification purposes only.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 6
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Agree with @Karl. The most important role (not the most demanded yet) is a digital systems architect. Such an architect will be using the systems approach to transform an enterprise to be digital, i.e. life cycles of the enterprise's primary products and services will be built on the primacy of explicit, formal, computer-readable and computer-executable presentation of those products and services.

Such an architect will be able to architect systems with requested essential characteristics, e.g. security and privacy by design.

As we heard, business analyst is a very demanding role right now, however fanatics of this role made a marketing statement about this role that this role may offer solutions for clients’ problems, define “design options”, give “solution recommendation”. This sound likes magic, but, actually, this role may offer one from many existing solutions, like a salesman helping us to buy clothes in an “prêt-à-porter” shop. So, business analysts are salesmen not engineers (sorry John).

I don’t think that digital transformation is about buying already existing solutions.


+1 Alexander

"Salesmen", for sure, because '" define “design options”, give “solution recommendation” " does not work.

One tip for finding a good D.A. is to look for someone who has learned how to learn.

Lewis Carroll (1865) had it all figured out . . . .

White Rabbit: "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty"
King: "Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop"

And, what we have learned over time is when you get to the end, it's just another beginning.
Thanks @Karl, Now we are waiting for many "Solutions Originated by Salesmen" SOS. Looks like "tail wagging the dog".....

  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #5086
LOL and +1 Walter and Alexander above! I suppose I should take umbrage at the characterization of sales, but there's truth in your comments. Perhaps though the BA role as salesperson will evolve, due to changes in technology and business. Please see my comments below.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 7
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As ever business knowledge in context of market place should be in leadership. Knowledge of how the digital delivery and connections are made is important which includes the adaptive need to react quickly to market changes which includes compliance. Agree that architecture of delivery important but working closely with business analyst skills to build the digital solution. I see delivery of hardware infrastructure etc can be outsourced under responsibility of the in house architect but the software must be in "ownership" of the business.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 8
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Are business analysts just sales people? Whether or not this has been true, it may not be true for much longer as the BA role evolves, due to changes in technology and business. Here's the argument:


(1) SIDE COMMENT ON GENDER -- I had noticed on @Samarin's tweet (https://twitter.com/samarin/status/966092360068321281) an analogy between EA (Enterprise Architecture) and BA (Business Analysis) using doctors and nurses. I note a deeper aspect to this comparison, in terms of gender profiles. The proportion of females to males in business analysis is (like nursing) much higher than the proportion in software development. I offer this as observation only.

(2) ECONOMICS & SHIFT IN BA DEMAND CURVE -- Until recently, the demand for BAs has been dependent primarily on the demand for software development and customization. But most companies can't afford to do much custom software development. So the demand for BAs has been limited to organizations with software development shops. Now with ever more powerful software technologies (including BPM and BRM) and the pressure for business transformation, the demand curve for whatever it is that BAs do has "shifted to the right". In other words, there's more need for business analysis, where business analysis is figuring out how to construct required artefacts of digitalization.

(3) COGNITIVE LOAD AND VIABLE ROLES -- Now there's the role issue. In a modern business you will require the following high-level skills and knowledge areas:

_____1. technology (e.g. performance, security, sysops, APIs, storage, applications, software etc.)
_____2. systems theory (e.g. where to put warehouse, feedback loops, industrial engineering, economics, MBA quant, BPM, business rules)
_____3. business domain (e.g. healthcare, logistics, finance)

Each management area breaks down into sub-specialities; the skill and knowledge demands of each domain are very demanding. And yet any business plan must be based on consideration across all areas. So obviously division of labour is required.

BAs have played an important role in the traditional enterprise knowledge stack, as the bridge between #1 (technology) and #3 (business). And if one actually had an EA (or systems architects, business architects or what have you) they would bridge #2 (systems theory) and #3 (business).

(4) DISTINGUISH EA AND BA ROLES -- Certainly BA and EA are not the same. One difference is that the number of BAs is probably vastly greater than the number of EAs. And this reflects I think the key difference between BA and EA, which is that BA is concerned with operations "inside a functional box", whereas EAs are more concerned with the "arrangement of boxes". Inside the box the BA is concerned with "value creation". Between the boxes, the EA is concerned with "value chain". This is not to denigrate either role, rather to acknowledge the enormity of knowledge required to perform any BA or EA work. (The work of EA has its own challenges, one of which is that senior business executives think they they are capable of performing the activities without an EA.)

We are seeing an evolution now in the BA profession; for example, it's been suggested that BAs can be the primary interpreters of AI data streams.

(5) EVOLUTION TO GREATER BA ROLE -- This greater role for BAs reflects the possibility that BAs could bridge all three layers of the enterprise knowledge stack: understanding technology (#1), understanding systems or business theory (#2) and as experts in a given business domain (#3). The possibility of a BA bridging all three layers of the enterprise knowledge stack is in part made possible by on-going abstraction of software development, where one is now less concerned with bits and bytes and can work more often directly with technology, such as BPM, where business concepts are first-class citizens of that technology.

This is a new and larger role for BAs. Previously BAs may have had a role of "sales", interpreting business needs to IT. And #2 wasn't really systematically addressed by anyone, except in passing. This casual model of systems management is no longer a viable business management strategy for the age of transformation.

EAs -- when they are in place -- do big picture theory. And BAs, found more and more widely, will be responsible for bridging business and technology for business value creation -- not just as sales representation. BAs will perform their work while owning and exercising mastery of the tools of systems theory. And they will be responsible for the new understandings on which the technological artefacts of value creation and business transformation are built.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 9
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Three decades ago assembler was an essential skill and sure pass to newly emerging digital world. Ever since then, digital systems progressively grew in complexity, and programming languages respectively evolved with them to higher levels of aggregation and abstraction.

With present level of development in IT and digital business platforms, low level programming skills no more play critical role in building and maintenance of enterprise solutions. Instead, BPM and EA become essential know-how giving the keys for creation of highly effective business applications.

The focus of the whole IT industry progressively shifts from programming towards architecture. BPM leads this essential trend in business, life and the whole way of thinking.

  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 10
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@Boris makes some interesting points about what has happened over 3 decades. Whilst I was not involved with the industry in the 80s it did become clear that there was hope the evolution of the industry would see reduction in need for coding in enterprise software. This was recently articulated from industry thought leader thought leader Naomi Bloom “Writing less code to achieve great business applications was my focus in that 1984 article, and it remains so today. Being able to do this is critical if we’re going to realize the full potential of information technology” “….how those models can become applications without any code being written or even generated”. “If I’m right, you’ll want to be on the agile, models-driven, definitional development side of the moat thus created…..” ”If your Enterprise vendor isn't pretty far down this path, their future isn't very bright”. Naomi goes on to say “It really matters how your vendors build their software, not just what they build” Bill Gates saw it in 2008 (after we had discovered how) when he announced plans to build a declarative modelling capability reducing the need to code calling it the “holy grail of development forever”, “the dream the quest…. but would be in a time frame of 5 to 8 years.”

This vision was the driver in the 80s by our founder who as a business person believed there just had to be a better way to remove coding from building business applications and with the focus on supporting people in a horizontal flow of work not the silo approach which the industry adopted. The huge vested interests in the maintenance of coding in hands of the supply chain gave little incentive to seek the change? The no code is at early stages but it really does work covering all needs as we have proven and will become very important for the build and maintenance of enterprise level applications. Yes BPM is a key to establishing the custom requirements for delivery of digital applications but needs the supporting platform software. The EA role also important understanding all the components including effective secure delivery and using legacy. The effective commoditisation of this supporting software does remove that historical inhibitor of programming and BPM will lead "the whole way of thinking".... BUT only achievable by the removal of coding just as was the vision in the 80s. We are just at the start of this new journey.......
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