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From Where We Sit

Insights: Innovative thinking leads to innovative talent

Michael C. Gallego Michael C. Gallego

New technology, and the new applications we devise for it, is transforming the business landscape more quickly than we ever thought, impacting not only the newly created roles within our organizations, but our entire workforce.

Given this scenario, how does a company now create a stream of high-quality talent with the relevant skills? Grant Thornton suggests some key areas that need to be considered to sustain business growth:

1. New channels, new products, new skills
Technology and automation are fast developing, quickly making the previous obsolete, we don’t know what particular skills we will need five years from now. While omni-channel retailing, social media and the use of apps are still in the early stages of uptake, new skills are also needed to engage them.

Manufacturing requirements get transformed as new products and the skills required to produce them also change: think, for example, of how smart watches like that of Apple altered a product that has remained little changed over hundreds of years.

2. What departments will be affected?
The impact of digitization is not confined to the IT department. To provide a true customer-centric experience, traditional IT roles may now be better aligned with customer analytics, marketing and customer retention teams. This merging was what delivered us smart phones, suggesting shops and restaurants nearby whenever you’re inside a mall, or when Amazon predicts your purchase pattern and then suggests similar products or services.
Responsibilities, such as search engine optimization, which were outsourced in the past because they were still in the infant stage requiring external expertise may now be deemed more economical if conveyed in-house. Similarly, other responsibilities that are no longer strategic to the company may now be outsourced.

The rise of social media has led to consumers interacting with companies in new ways. The role of chief marketing officer has changed dramatically, with knowledge, ideas and strategies all directed through digital channel now, in order to interact with customers more effectively.

The marketing department will also require more technical roles – think big data. Marketers will need to balance the traditional creative and human elements with data-driven technology. They will need to integrate campaigns with information technology, given that this will transform their understanding and use of data. Perhaps, the marketer of the future will be a ‘creative technologist.’

HR roles are evolving, too. New research roles in talent teams are now responsible for sourcing (online and through more traditional channels) relevant candidates. Likewise, learning and development teams will need to master new approaches in delivering effective online training to a globalized workforce.

3. How resilient is your company culture?
Culture is pivotal in sustaining performance – it’s about how people work and how they encourage each other while doing it. Truly exceptional organizations are differentiated by constructive cultures in terms of employee engagement, client satisfaction and performance. In times of rapid change, it’s more important than ever to foster this constructive culture by engaging your people, assisting them to cope with the uncertainty of a changing internal and external environment and aligning them with the strategy of the business. Consider the following factors:

Is your culture one that can change quickly?
Is your culture aligned to the talent you are aiming to attract?
How could your culture adapt and evolve to draw the right talent?
Are your employees brand-effective and are they aligned to the brand promise?
How are you and your company perceived by your competitors?

4. Flexible workforce
Despite the presence of on-site gyms and day care centers, when employees are asked which benefits would be most valuable to them, the majority still choose benefits that enable work-life integration, or work combined with quality life.

While not a direct result of digitization, flexible working conditions are required if you want to compete and attract the best people, especially young people who want to work whenever it suits them, employees with families, and those on the retirement path. Technology makes flexible working very much easier – wherever there is WiFi access or smart phone access 24/7; from home or wherever. Our work-off-base (WOB) arrangement in the office allowed our people the flexibility to manage their time and service deliveries. Or hold a video conference call while stuck in traffic inside their Uber hire.

5. Upskilling and leadership planning
In a workforce that’s changing so rapidly, how do you keep your best people keen on the most relevant skill level? Traditional HR and recruitment roles may require upskilling in order to communicate with candidates via social media, new apps and mobiles.

They’re also required to predict what skills will be required in the future. Those in technical roles are likely to advance quickly, so how will you provide them with the management skills required to be future leaders? How will your teams manage effectively to deliver to the ever-changing requirements thrown up by digital disruption?

Technology will continue to advance and inevitably change the business landscape. Organizations should take the opportunity to innovate through development of a technology-responsive, innovative culture to attract and retain the best talents. A focus on both culture and people will lead to a robust business and superior financial performance.

Mhycke Gallego is a partner of Advisory Services, and head of Knowledge Management of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and more than 800 staff members. For comments, please email mhycke. or Visit our Website:; follow us on Twitter: pagrantthornton, and FB: P&A Grant Thornton.

As published in The Manila Times, dated 1 February 2017