The economic repercussions of COVID-19 triggered a strong wave of digital transformation across the business world - all in an uncomfortably short period. But despite the haste, many businesses introduced innovative digital and contactless methods to deliver their products or services to customers. And many more were able to automate several processes in the value chain, which helped them restructure their business models into more efficient ones.
Right from planning and organising business operations to streamlining company finances and employee communications, digital transformation has exhibited multi-dimensional utility across the global business landscape.
To achieve more nimble, flexible, and agile business models, many companies had already invested in digital technologies prior to the pandemic. Today’s digital disruption helped them realize the true potential of this digital push, as several companies were quickly able to adapt to this volatile climate and make critical business decisions to shape the organization’s future.
For example, when the pandemic hit, many offline businesses flocked to Shopify to create an online presence and steer clear from any further economic adversities.
Leveraging this digital push, Shopify saw a 120 percent jump in new merchants joining the platform in the first six months of 2020 when compared to 2019, and the company was able to help several businesses weather the COVID-19 storm and generate greater revenues across the pandemic.
Such perceptive, opportune, and bold strategy pivots only go to show that going digital is no longer a preference, but a necessity, in the new normal. This has become the new business reality, making it imperative for professionals to expand their digital skills to future-proof their careers.
Online learning and disruptive digital skills can build a future-ready workforce
Online learning has emerged as a critical tool that promises the potential to prepare business and professionals for a digital future. Learners stand to benefit immensely from emerging digital-learning solutions, especially when blended with physical infrastructure, providing a holistic learning experience. As the world-of-work changes rapidly, innovative solutions can empower different kinds of learners to create their own learning paths.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, the current rate of tech adoption will transform jobs, tasks, and skills in the next five years.
In fact, job roles like data analysts, scientists, process automation specialists, and digital transformation specialists are expected to gain more prominence in the next few years. While skilling has become a hot trend in the current job climate, professionals should know that simply having basic digital skills won’t cut it because disruptive digital skills are now a necessity, not a preference.
To help the workforce withstand digital disruption and help upskill India’s youth, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and LinkedIn joined hands to provide free access to 10 LinkedIn Learning paths for a range of in-demand tech jobs, and 3 soft skills LinkedIn Learning paths, on the eSkill India digital platform until 31st March 2021.
These learning paths are part of a global skills initiative, launched by Linkedin as part of the Microsoft ecosystem, to deploy integral digital skills among 25 million job-seekers worldwide.
Three months since its launch, in August, the initiative reached more than 10 million learners across the world and 7.7 lakh learners in India. Such initiatives promote easy access to learning resources that can democratize opportunities in a digital future of work.
Learning is key to close skills gap; demand for tech talent will surge
The most competitive companies are strengthening their tech infrastructure to gain more digital speed, make faster decisions, and deploy more accurate data-based predictions that are pivotal to the organization’s growth. This has called for the immediate need for reskilling the workforce, and many companies are already offering robust online learning tools to fill the gaps in digital talent. One such company is Verizon.
When faced with mandatory store closures, the company leaders were able to offer employees a choice of remote job roles such as ‘telesales’ or ‘customer service’, in addition to personalized online learning recommendations to close skills gaps required for those new roles.
Another company that hinged on online learning is Airtel. The telecommunications operator partnered with LinkedIn Learning and introduced a ‘change management’ programme to develop a learning culture across 10,000 employees.
During COVID-19, Airtel saw record-high engagement on LinkedIn Learning, with twice (2x) the number of learners logging in and a 35 percent increase in monthly repeat learners. Online learning has certainly become critical today, as businesses use it not just to upskill their workforces but also to reimagine the way they work in an increasingly digital and remote reality.
As the challenging year comes to a close, online learning has become the cornerstone for ‘digital leaping’ as the world of work prepares for the tech-led years ahead.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 reports that 9 in 10 (87 percent) Indian companies surveyed are accelerating the digitization of work processes as a response to COVID-19.
Further, LinkedIn data estimates that the platform will see 150 million tech-led jobs in the future. With this surging demand for digital processes and talent across businesses and the workforce, online learning is poised for massive growth in the year to come, as the online education market is expected to touch INR 360 billion by 2024 - up from INR 39 billion, as per a recent report by data firm ‘Research and Markets’.
Ergo, the biggest takeaway for businesses and professionals ahead of 2021, would be to set important skilling milestones in their journeys. Companies can do this by sharing tailor-made online learning recommendations to help their employees pivot to more relevant roles or climb the ladder in these testing times.
However, introducing such a robust culture of learning and customising it could pose potential challenges, especially in terms of helping employees set time away for online learning and sustaining their motivation in doing so regularly. But if done successfully, companies could induce gratitude and pride of association within employees by proactively investing in improving their skills and candidacy.
—The writers, Ashutosh Gupta, is the India Country Manager at LinkedIn, and Dr Manish Kumar is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). The views expressed are personal.