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Businesses face some pressing questions about their future talent pipelines and people strategy. The pace of technological, political and economic change has left CEOs standing on constantly shifting. Just as the industrial revolution did one and a half centuries, the digital revolution is reshaping the way we live our lives and the way we work. It’s also forcing a fundamental transformation of business – changing the relationship with customers, bringing new entrants and their disruptive technologies, driving new channels, products and services, breaking down the walls between industries and, in many cases, forcing a basic rethink of the business model.
The speed of change makes it almost impossible to predict the future with any degree of certainty. In such a climate, organisations need a credible and forward looking leader; a role that has never been more critical. CEOs need to understand how technology can improve their business and the customer experience, and plan for things that seem a distant dream. Denise Ramos, CEO of ITT Corporation, puts it like this: “You have to create multiple futures and multiple options for your company, because you don’t know when the world’s going to look like three to five years from now.”
One of the biggest headaches for CEOs is making sure that the organisation has the right people to cope with what lies ahead. There’s the basic question of planning for the skills that are needed now and in the future: Which roles will be automated? What new roles will be needed to manage and run emerging technology? What skills should the company be looking for, and training their people for? Where will we find the people we need?
But more importantly, CEOs need to be sure that the business is fit to react quickly to whatever the future may throw at it – and that means filling it with adaptable, creative people, working in a culture where energy fizzes and ideas spark into life. If they can’t be found, they must be created.
Whatever technological innovations are ahead, it’s the people that will make the difference between eventual success and failure. That’s why CEOs need a people strategy for the digital age.