The impact of digital transformation on talent

Di Amanda Prochaska

Articolo estratto da Tecnologie e nuove competenze – The Procurement Magazine, Anno 6 N°1

Amanda Prochaska


Amanda Prochaska,
President & CEO HPP and Global Women Procurement Professionals


We are living in a world that is constantly changing. Sometimes you might be ebbing and swaying, simply trying to figure out what is going to work, stay, or is just hype. There are many conversations about the latest and greatest technologies, and how it will impact what we do daily. For example, do you know the difference between blockchain, bitcoin, and digital currency? Don’t worry, most people don’t, but if you do, kudos to you! Often these conversations are focused on what the technology does, how it works, and where you deploy the technologies.

If we stop the conversation at that point, we will be missing out on the larger transformation that can take place within our teams and the services provided. This is often called the “so what” behind the implementation. The leaders in digital revolutions are seeing the bigger picture – particularly around how to prepare their talent with the skills and capabilities they will need post-digital transformation. Even if a digital transformation has not been approved in your company yet, or if you are already on the journey, there is an opportunity to prepare your teams now for what the future holds. In fact, your talent strategy is the most important part of your digital transformation journey.

The must/have skills

Within procurement, we have been talking about automation of tactical and transactional work for years now. We have also been discussing the poor shape of our data. In contrast, in the near future, due to AI, IoT, Machine Learning, and RPA all colliding, we could be looking at a world where even the most strategic aspects of our roles will be automated. In fact, there are already technologies that are being used today that fully automate master service agreement negotiations, or that offer the price we should be getting in the market for any RFP.

Digital transformation shifts the focus of needing highly skilled procurement professionals in the technical aspects of our profession, to a focus on people who are highly skilled in influence, collaboration, problem solving, and grit. These skills are required to do the work that is remaining for procurement – building innovative, trusted relationships with stakeholders and suppliers. Unfortunately, for all of us, these skills are harder than technical skills to identify during an interview, and they are also harder to develop in your current teams or within yourself. Here are some examples of these must have skills.

  • Influencers – These are people who can motivate others to do something that is uncomfortable making it desirable, in fact, to do. They have the ability to encourage others to have courage to surpass expectations and give others the skills to do so. They are known for their ability to create high performing teams who have high expectations for each other. They love to tell stories, to share learnings, successes, and to inspire others. Lastly, they know, reflect on, and use metrics to measure performance and also to motivate others.
  • Collaborators – The best collaborators understand that teams of people are smarter than the individual. They are constantly looking for new ideas from others having robust and, at times, challenging conversations to get to the best outcome. They encourage interation on work, knowing that through feedback, no matter how critical, the product will improve. They are the ones in the room asking questions to truly understand what
    the other parties in the room are challenged with achieving or are dealing with on a daily basis. They seek to understand.
  • Problem solvers – These are the people who are constantly looking for new ways to do the work or to make someone else’s life better. They ask many questions, and they do not let the tales of the past or the current understanding to box in their thought process. They would much rather create something new than rely on best practices, or what one could call average, widely adopted practices. They have courage to try something new or different.
  • The gritty – People who have grit do not give up easily. They see the bigger picture and understand that the challenges of today lead to learning and success in the future. They constantly are looking for different paths forward when obstacles appear. They are not stuck on the journey going perfectly as planned, but focus on achieving the larger goal. These are the people that through organizational changes, changes in processes, and
    other changes that might be occurring, stay calm and focused on the goal.

The must-have roles

Alongside the new skills that will need to be developed, acquired, or purchased, there will be an emergence of a new group of roles for the techies in all of us. You might be noticing some of these roles coming on the scene already. Some of the noted ones include data scientists, data analysts and procurement technology managers. Whether these roles are within procurement or within another area of your organization, they will be needed to achieve the best returns on your digital deployments.

Your talent strategy

Given the new roles and skills that are needed, all companies have the opportunity to start transforming their talent today. All of the skills and roles noted above are useful today, even if you are not on a digital transformation journey yet. Your strategy should include the following aspects.

  • How you recruit – Let’s start with your job descriptions and postings. Job descriptions should all have these critical skills above noted in them. Most postings today highlight technical experience before any softer skills are noted, if at all. Additionally, interviews should include questions about these skills to assess if the recruit has these skills already.
  • Who you recruit – Since roles will become less technical overtime, consider recruiting from non-traditional places, like sales or customer relationship management, or even marketing. These roles have traditionally been focused on the soft skills that are becoming more needed in procurement.
  • How you develop – Each year, procurement departments are spending their budgets on developing technical skills. Frankly, these investments are easy to make because most times you have a direct return. However, more and more of that budget should be focused on the skills needed to build those robust, trusted

Leaders typically say that people come first. Let’s make sure that people remain first in our digital journeys.